[ lahy-uh-buhl ]
See synonyms for liable on
  1. legally responsible: You are liable for the damage caused by your action.

  2. subject or susceptible: to be liable to heart disease.

  1. likely or apt: He's liable to get angry.

Origin of liable

First recorded in 1535–45; from Anglo-French “to bind,” from Latin ligāre ) + -able

usage note For liable

Liable is often interchangeable with likely in constructions with a following infinitive where the sense is that of probability: The Sox are liable (or likely ) to sweep the Series. Some usage guides, however, say that liable can be used only in contexts in which the outcome is undesirable: The picnic is liable to be spoiled by rain. This use occurs often in formal writing but not to the exclusion of use in contexts in which the outcome is desirable: The drop in unemployment is liable to stimulate the economy. Apt may also be used in place of liable or likely in all the foregoing examples. See also apt, likely.

Other words for liable

Other words from liable

  • non·li·a·ble, adjective
  • pre·li·a·ble, adjective
  • un·li·a·ble, adjective

Words that may be confused with liable Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

British Dictionary definitions for liable


/ (ˈlaɪəbəl) /

  1. legally obliged or responsible; answerable

  2. susceptible or exposed; subject

  1. probable, likely, or capable: it's liable to happen soon

Origin of liable

C15: perhaps via Anglo-French, from Old French lier to bind, from Latin ligāre

usage For liable

The use of liable to to mean likely to was formerly considered incorrect, but is now acceptable

Derived forms of liable

  • liableness, noun

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