having power and ability; efficient; competent: a capable instructor.


    capable of,
    1. having the ability or capacity for: a man capable of judging art.
    2. open to the influence or effect of; susceptible of: a situation capable of improvement.
    3. predisposed to; inclined to: capable of murder.

Origin of capable

1555–65; < Late Latin capābilis roomy, apparently equivalent to cap(āx) roomy + -ābilis able; see capacity
Related formsca·pa·ble·ness, nounca·pa·bly, adverbo·ver·ca·pa·ble, adjectivequa·si-ca·pa·ble, adjectivequa·si-ca·pa·bly, adverbsu·per·ca·pa·ble, adjectivesu·per·ca·pa·ble·ness, nounsu·per·ca·pa·bly, adverb

Synonyms for capable

Synonym study

1. See able. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for capable

Contemporary Examples of capable

Historical Examples of capable

  • But you shall see how I'll help you with your work; I was capable of it all the time.

    The Spenders

    Harry Leon Wilson

  • It passed, and the next moment she was on her feet again, capable of action.


    Thomas Wentworth Higginson

  • If I am capable of judging, our tempers and inclinations are vastly different.

    Clarissa, Volume 1 (of 9)

    Samuel Richardson

  • She is so capable and the girls not only like her but respect her as well.

  • The Duke wanted a capable candidate to help him regain his ascendency.

    The Grand Old Man

    Richard B. Cook

British Dictionary definitions for capable



having ability, esp in many different fields; competent
(postpositive foll by of) able or having the skill (to do something)she is capable of hard work
(postpositive foll by of) having the temperament or inclination (to do something)he seemed capable of murder
Derived Formscapableness, nouncapably, adverb

Word Origin for capable

C16: from French, from Late Latin capābilis able to take in, from Latin capere to take
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 capable

1560s, from Middle French capable or directly from Late Latin capabilis "receptive; able to grasp or hold," used by theologians, from Latin capax "able to hold much, broad, wide, roomy;" also "receptive, fit for;" adjectival form of capere "to grasp, lay hold, take, catch; undertake; take in, hold; be large enough for; comprehend," from PIE *kap- "to grasp" (cf. Sanskrit kapati "two handfuls;" Greek kaptein "to swallow, gulp down;" Lettish kampiu "seize;" Old Irish cacht "servant-girl," literally "captive;" Welsh caeth "captive, slave;" Gothic haban "have, hold;" Old English hæft "handle," habban "to have, hold," Modern English have). Related: Capably.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper