acquired it (e.g. habiliment, habilitate), via French.
"Able-whackets - A popular sea-game with cards, in which the loser is beaten over the palms of the hands with a handkerchief tightly twisted like a rope. Very popular with horny-fisted sailors." [Smyth, "Sailor's Word-Book," 1867]
suffix expressing ability, capacity, fitness, from Fr., from L. -ibilis, -abilis, forming adjectives from verbs, from PIE *-tro-, a suffix used to form nouns of instrument. In L., infinitives in -are took -abilis, others -ibilis; in Eng., -able is used for native words, -ible for words of obvious L.
origin. The Latin suffix is not etymologically connected with able
, but it long has been popularly associated with it, and this has contributed to its survival as a living suffix. It is related to the second syllable of rudder