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[ey-buh l] /ˈeɪ bəl/
adjective, abler, ablest.
having necessary power, skill, resources, or qualifications; qualified:
able to lift a two-hundred-pound weight; able to write music; able to travel widely; able to vote.
having unusual or superior intelligence, skill, etc.:
an able leader.
showing talent, skill, or knowledge:
an able speech.
legally empowered, qualified, or authorized.
(usually initial capital letter) a code word formerly used in communications to represent the letter A.
Origin of able
1275-1325; Middle English < Middle French < Latin habilis handy, equivalent to hab(ēre) to have, hold + -ilis -ile
Related forms
overable, adjective
overably, adverb
1. fit, fitted. Able, capable, competent all mean possessing adequate power for doing something. Able implies power equal to effort required: able to finish in time. Capable implies power to meet or fulfill ordinary requirements: a capable worker. Competent suggests power to meet demands in a completely satisfactory manner: a competent nurse. 2. talented; skilled, clever, ingenious. 3. apt.
1. incompetent. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for ablest
  • Many of his compatriots think him their ablest politician.
  • He is supposedly one of the country's ablest politicians.
  • Influential mentors draw the ablest graduate students, who in turn help advance their own ideas and continued funding.
  • Many of the country's ablest citizens enrolled in seminaries to prepare for a life of service to their congregations.
  • He knew some of his ablest officers and best friends were lost in the voids below.
  • One of the ablest soldiers the war has produced does not speak for himself, or about himself.
  • The winds and waves are always on the side of the ablest navigators.
  • When he came out, he was attended by two of the oldest and ablest detectives.
  • Independent sentence construction emerges in mid-year among the ablest students.
British Dictionary definitions for ablest


(postpositive) having the necessary power, resources, skill, time, opportunity, etc, to do something: able to swim
capable; competent; talented: an able teacher
(law) qualified, competent, or authorized to do some specific act
Word Origin
C14: ultimately from Latin habilis easy to hold, manageable, apt, from habēre to have, hold + -ilis-ile
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
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Word Origin and History for ablest



early 14c., from Old French (h)able (14c.), from Latin habilem, habilis "easily handled, apt," verbal adjective from habere "to hold" (see habit). "Easy to be held," hence "fit for a purpose." The silent h- was dropped in English and resisted academic attempts to restore it 16c.-17c., but some derivatives 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]

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Related Abbreviations for ablest


Association for Biology Laboratory Education
The American Heritage® Abbreviations Dictionary, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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