Dictionary > English Dictionary > Definition, synonym and antonym of ability
Meaning of ability by Wiktionary Dictionary


    Alternative forms


    • First attested from before 1398 .
    • From Middle English abilite ( “suitability, aptitude, ability” ), from Middle French habilité, from Latin habilitās ( “aptness, ability” ), from habilis ( “apt, fit, skillful” ) .
    • See able .


    • ( US ) IPA: /əˈ.bɪl.ə.ti/, /əˈ.bɪl.ə.di/


    ability ( countable and uncountable; plural: abilities )

    1. ( uncountable ) The quality or state of being able .
      This phone has the ability to have its software upgraded wirelessly .
      This wood has the ability to fight off insects, fungus, and mold for a considerable time .
    2. ( countable ) A skill or competence in doing.
    3. ( uncountable, countable ) A high level of skill or competence .
      They are persons of ability, who will go far in life .
      She has an uncanny ability to defuse conflict .
    4. ( uncountable ) Physical, mental or legal power to perform .
    5. ( uncountable ) Aptitude .

    Usage notes

    1. ^ George Crabb, 1826, English synonymes explained in alphabetical order, Collins & Hannay, p. 13


    Related terms

    • able


    • Gregg ( Version: Centennial,Series 90,DJS,Simplified ): a - b - disjoined l
    ( Version: Anniversary,Pre-Anniversary ): a - disjoined b

    External links

    • ability in Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary, G. & C. Merriam, 1913
    • ability in The Century Dictionary, The Century Co., New York, 1911


    By Wiktionary ( 2012/06/29 17:52 UTC Version )

    Alternative forms

    • -ibility


    From Middle English -ablete, -iblete, -abilite, -ibilite, from Middle French -ableté, -ibleté, -abilité, -ibilité, from Latin -abilitas, -ibilitas, from -abilis ( “able” ) or -ibilis ( “able” ) + -tas or -ty


    ( US ) IPA: /ə.ˈbɪl.ə.ti/



    1. Ability, inclination or suitability for a specified function or condition .

    Usage notes

    Derived terms

    [+] English words suffixed with -ability

Explanation of ability by Wordnet Dictionary


    1. the quality of being able to perform

    2. possession of the qualities ( especially mental qualities ) required to do something or get something done

    Definition of ability by GCIDE Dictionary


    1. Ability ( ȧbĭlĭt ), n.; pl. Abilities ( ȧbĭlĭtĭz ). [F. habileté, earlier spelling habilité ( with silent h ), L. habilitas aptitude, ability, fr. habilis apt. See Able.] The quality or state of being able; power to perform, whether physical, moral, intellectual, conventional, or legal; capacity; skill or competence in doing; sufficiency of strength, skill, resources, etc.; -- in the plural, faculty, talent.

      Then the disciples, every man according to his ability, determined to send relief unto the brethren. Acts xi. 29.

      Natural abilities are like natural plants, that need pruning by study. Bacon.

      The public men of England, with much of a peculiar kind of ability. Macaulay.

      Syn. -- Capacity; talent; cleverness; faculty; capability; efficiency; aptitude; aptness; address; dexterity; skill. Ability, Capacity. These words come into comparison when applied to the higher intellectual powers. Ability has reference to the active exercise of our faculties. It implies not only native vigor of mind, but that ease and promptitude of execution which arise from mental training. Thus, we speak of the ability with which a book is written, an argument maintained, a negotiation carried on, etc. It always something to be done, and the power of doing it. Capacity has reference to the receptive powers. In its higher exercises it supposes great quickness of apprehension and breadth of intellect, with an uncommon aptitude for acquiring and retaining knowledge. Hence it carries with it the idea of resources and undeveloped power. Thus we speak of the extraordinary capacity of such men as Lord Bacon, Blaise Pascal, and Edmund Burke. “Capacity,” says H. Taylor, “is requisite to devise,
      and ability to execute, a great enterprise.” The word abilities, in the plural, embraces both these qualities, and denotes high mental endowments.