[ ey-buhl ]
See synonyms for: ableablest on

adjective,a·bler, a·blest.
  1. having necessary power, skill, resources, or qualifications; qualified: able to lift a two-hundred-pound weight; able to write music; able to travel widely; able to vote.

  2. having unusual or superior intelligence, skill, etc.: an able leader.

  1. showing talent, skill, or knowledge: an able speech.

  2. legally empowered, qualified, or authorized.

  1. Usually Able . a code word formerly used in communications to represent the letter A.

Origin of able

First recorded in 1275–1325; Middle English, from Middle French, from Latin habilis “handy,” equivalent to hab(ēre) “to have, hold” + -ilis adjective suffix; see -ile

synonym study For able

1. Able, capable, competent all mean possessing adequate power for doing something. Able implies power equal to effort required: able to finish in time. Capable implies power to meet or fulfill ordinary requirements: a capable worker. Competent suggests power to meet demands in a completely satisfactory manner: a competent nurse.

Other words for able

Opposites for able

Other words from able

  • o·ver·a·ble, adjective
  • o·ver·a·b·ly, adverb

Other definitions for -able (2 of 2)


  1. a suffix meaning “capable of, susceptible of, fit for, tending to, given to,” associated in meaning with the word able, occurring in loanwords from Latin (laudable); used in English as a highly productive suffix to form adjectives by addition to stems of any origin (teachable; photographable).

Origin of -able

Middle English <Old French <Latin -ābilis, equivalent to -ā- final vowel of 1st conjugation v. stems + -bilis Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use able in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for able (1 of 2)


/ (ˈeɪbəl) /

  1. (postpositive) having the necessary power, resources, skill, time, opportunity, etc, to do something: able to swim

  2. capable; competent; talented: an able teacher

  1. law qualified, competent, or authorized to do some specific act

Origin of able

C14: ultimately from Latin habilis easy to hold, manageable, apt, from habēre to have, hold + -ilis -ile

British Dictionary definitions for -able (2 of 2)


suffix forming adjectives
  1. capable of, suitable for, or deserving of (being acted upon as indicated): enjoyable; pitiable; readable; separable; washable

  2. inclined to; given to; able to; causing: comfortable; reasonable; variable

Origin of -able

via Old French from Latin -ābilis, -ībilis, forms of -bilis, adjectival suffix

Derived forms of -able

  • -ably, suffix forming adverbs
  • -ability, suffix forming nouns

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