noun, plural dis·a·bil·i·ties for 2.

lack of adequate power, strength, or physical or mental ability; incapacity.
a physical or mental handicap, especially one that prevents a person from living a full, normal life or from holding a gainful job.
anything that disables or puts one at a disadvantage: His mere six-foot height will be a disability in professional basketball.
the state or condition of being disabled.
legal incapacity; legal disqualification.

Origin of disability

First recorded in 1570–80; dis-1 + ability

Synonyms for disability

Synonym study

1. Disability, inability imply a lack of power or ability. A disability is some disqualifying deprivation or loss of power, physical or other: excused because of a physical disability; a temporary disability. Inability is a lack of ability, usually because of an inherent lack of talent, power, etc.: inability to talk, to do well in higher mathematics.

Antonyms for disability

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for disability

Contemporary Examples of disability

Historical Examples of disability

  • Certain sections of the nation get cured of this disability.

  • Take one child and put him under the disability that the twins were born with.

    Now We Are Three

    Joe L. Hensley

  • Do you think that some exterior force is causing the President's disability?

  • Only how the bonfires wouldn't burn if it should turn out to be only a disability after all.

    Is He Popenjoy?

    Anthony Trollope

  • This disability was removed in 1802, and much benefit is expected to result from this measure.


    Frederick Shoberl

British Dictionary definitions for disability


noun plural -ties

the condition of being unable to perform a task or function because of a physical or mental impairment
something that disables; handicap
lack of necessary intelligence, strength, etc
an incapacity in the eyes of the law to enter into certain transactions


Many deaf and hard of hearing people object to the use of the phrase hearing disability
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 disability

1570s, "want of ability;" see dis- + ability. Related: Disabilities.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Medicine definitions for disability




A disadvantage or deficiency, especially a physical or mental impairment that prevents or restricts normal achievement.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.