noun, plural ca·pa·bil·i·ties.

the quality of being capable; capacity; ability: His capability was unquestionable.
the ability to undergo or be affected by a given treatment or action: the capability of glass in resisting heat.
Usually capabilities. qualities, abilities, features, etc., that can be used or developed; potential: Though dilapidated, the house has great capabilities.

Origin of capability

1580–90; (< Middle French capabilité) < Late Latin capābili(s) capable + -ty2
Related formso·ver·ca·pa·bil·i·ty, noun, plural o·ver·ca·pa·bil·i··per·ca·pa·bil·i·ty, noun, plural su·per·ca·pa·bil·i·ties. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for capabilities

Contemporary Examples of capabilities

Historical Examples of capabilities

  • He sees at once the capabilities of a tale, but he will not use it except he may do with it what he pleases.

    A Dish Of Orts

    George MacDonald

  • They are strangely suggestive of the capabilities of the art.

  • He was daily growing to have a higher opinion of her wisdom and capabilities.

    Fair Harbor

    Joseph Crosby Lincoln

  • He would have been the last to blame her for this; her estimate of his capabilities was like his own, that was all.


    Joseph C. Lincoln

  • His capabilities may be small or great; if he but use them all, he is a success.

British Dictionary definitions for capabilities


noun plural -ties

the quality of being capable; ability
the quality of being susceptible to the use or treatment indicatedthe capability of a metal to be fused
(usually plural) a characteristic that may be developed; potential aptitude
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

Word Origin and History for capabilities



1580s, from capable + -ity. Capabilities "undeveloped faculty or property" is attested from 1778.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper