[vur-suh-tl or, esp. British, -tahyl]
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  1. capable of or adapted for turning easily from one to another of various tasks, fields of endeavor, etc.: a versatile writer.
  2. having or capable of many uses: a versatile tool.
  3. Botany. attached at or near the middle so as to swing freely, as an anther.
  4. Zoology. turning either forward or backward: a versatile toe.
  5. variable or changeable, as in feeling, purpose, or policy: versatile moods.

Origin of versatile

1595–1605; < Latin versātilis revolving, many-sided, equivalent to versāt(us) (past participle of versāre, frequentative of vertere to turn; see verse, -ate1) + -ilis -ile
Related formsver·sa·tile·ly, adverbver·sa·til·i·ty, ver·sa·tile·ness, nounnon·ver·sa·til·i·ty, nounun·ver·sa·tile, adjectiveun·ver·sa·tile·ly, adverbun·ver·sa·tile·ness, nounun·ver·sa·til·i·ty, noun

Synonyms for versatile

See more synonyms for on Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words for versatility

adaptability, ambidexterity, utility

Examples from the Web for versatility

Contemporary Examples of versatility

Historical Examples of versatility

British Dictionary definitions for versatility


  1. capable of or adapted for many different uses, skills, etc
  2. variable or changeable
  3. botany (of an anther) attached to the filament by a small area so that it moves freely in the wind
  4. zoology able to turn forwards and backwardsversatile antennae
Derived Formsversatilely, adverbversatility (ˌvɜːsəˈtɪlɪtɪ), noun

Word Origin for versatile

C17: from Latin versātilis moving around, from versāre to turn
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 versatility



c.1600, from Latin versatilis "turning, revolving, moving, capable of turning to varied subjects or tasks," from past participle stem of versare "keep turning, be engaged in something, turn over in the mind," frequentative of vertere "to turn" (see versus).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper