early 15c., "suitable for plowing" (as opposed to pasture- or wood-land), from O.Fr. arable, from L. arabilis, from arare "to plow," from PIE *are- "to plow" (cf. Gk. aroun, O.C.S. orja, Lith. ariu "to plow;" Goth. arjan, O.E. erian, M.Ir. airim, Welsh arddu "to plow;" O.N. arþr "a plow"). Replaced native erable, from O.E. erian "to plow."