[ uh-bil-i-tee ]
See synonyms for: abilityabilities on Thesaurus.com

noun,plural a·bil·i·ties.
  1. power or capacity to do or act physically, mentally, legally, morally, financially, etc.

  2. competence in an activity or occupation because of one's skill, training, or other qualification: the ability to sing well.

  1. abilities, talents; special skills or aptitudes: Composing music is beyond his abilities.

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Origin of ability

First recorded in 1350–1400; Middle English (h)abilite, from Middle French, from Latin habilitās “aptitude,” equivalent to habili(s) “handy” (see able) + -tās -ty2; replacing Middle English ablete, from Old French, from Latin, as above

synonym study For ability

2. Ability, faculty, talent denote qualifications or powers. Ability is a general word for power, native or acquired, enabling one to do things well: a person of great ability; ability in mathematics. Faculty denotes a natural ability for a particular kind of action: a faculty of saying what he means. Talent is often used to mean a native ability or aptitude in a special field: a talent for music or art.

Other words for ability

Other words from ability

  • sub·a·bil·i·ty, noun, plural sub·a·bil·i·ties.

Words that may be confused with ability

Words Nearby ability

Other definitions for -ability (2 of 2)


  1. a combination of -able and -ity, found on nouns corresponding to adjectives ending in -able: capability.

Origin of -ability

Middle English -abilite, from French -abilité, from Latin -ābilitās (inflectional stem -ābilitāt- )

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use ability in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for ability


/ (əˈbɪlɪtɪ) /

nounplural -ties
  1. possession of the qualities required to do something; necessary skill, competence, or power: the ability to cope with a problem

  2. considerable proficiency; natural capability: a man of ability

  1. (plural) special talents

Origin of ability

C14: from Old French from Latin habilitās aptitude, handiness, from habilis able

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012