"You canker blossom!" 3 Shakespearean Insults


[lahy-uh-buh l] /ˈlaɪ ə bəl/
legally responsible:
You are liable for the damage caused by your action.
subject or susceptible:
to be liable to heart disease.
likely or apt:
He's liable to get angry.
Origin of liable
1535-45; < Anglo-French li(er) to bind (< Latin ligāre) + -able
Related forms
nonliable, adjective
preliable, adjective
unliable, adjective
Can be confused
defamation, liable, libel, slander (see usage note at the current entry)
liable, libel.
1. obliged, accountable.
Usage note
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. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
Cite This Source
Examples from the web for liable
  • Destroy the entire system, if you make us liable for our fraud.
  • The government will be liable for the damages if it's recognized that this vaccine triggers autism.
  • Emotionally powerful material is particularly liable to emerge in telepathy, as well as repressed thoughts and memories.
  • Few governments still have revenues sufficient to cover the fixed money charges for which they have made themselves liable.
  • If the bricks get quarrelling among themselves the wall is liable to split and the whole house to fall.
  • Buses were rare, unpredictable, and liable to break down.
  • Otherwise, you're too subject to temptation, and liable to find yourself in over your head.
  • Nor is it human beings alone who are thus liable to be injured by means of their shadows.
  • She is a dreamy four-year-old, and on her own two feet, she's liable to meander.
  • But premature fiscal tightening is worse because it is liable to choke off the recovery prematurely.
British Dictionary definitions for liable


adjective (postpositive)
legally obliged or responsible; answerable
susceptible or exposed; subject
probable, likely, or capable: it's liable to happen soon
Derived Forms
liableness, noun
Usage note
The use of liable to to mean likely to was formerly considered incorrect, but is now acceptable
Word Origin
C15: perhaps via Anglo-French, from Old French lier to bind, from Latin ligāre
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
Cite This Source
Word Origin and History for liable

mid-15c., "bound or obliged by law," probably from Anglo-French *liable, from Old French lier "to bind, tie up, fasten, tether; bind by obligation," from Latin ligare "to bind, to tie" (see ligament). With -able. General sense of "exposed to" (something undesirable) is from 1590s. Incorrect use for "likely" is attested by 1886.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
Cite This Source

Word of the Day

Difficulty index for liable

Most English speakers likely know this word

Word Value for liable

Scrabble Words With Friends

Quotes with liable

Nearby words for liable