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a•bil•i•ty(əˈbɪl ɪ ti)
n., pl. -ties.
See Also: ACCOMPLISHMENT
- Able to absorb punishment as open buds absorb the dew —Grantland Rice
- The abilities of man must fall short on one side or other, like too scanty a blanket —Sir William Temple
- The ability to make a great individual fortune … is a sort of sublimated instinct in a way like the instinct of a rat-terrier for smelling out hidden rats —Irvin S. Cobb
- Being creative without talent is a bit like being a perfectionist and not being able to do anything right —Jane Agner
- Chose [people] with swift skill, like fruit tested for ripeness with a pinch —Paul Theroux
- (My wife … ) cooks like Escoffier on wheels —Moss Hart
- Cuts like a saw through soft pine through the chatter of freeloaders, time-wasting delegations —Stephen Longstreet
In Longstreet’s novel, Ambassador, from which this is extracted, the efficiency tactics are diplomatic.
- Efficient as a good deer rifle —Bruce DeSilva
- Functioned as smoothly as a hospital kitchen —Laurie Colwin
- Resourceful and energetic as a street dog —James Mills
- Having communists draft the law for the most capitalist society on earth is like having a blind man guide you through the Louvre museum —Mark Faber, Wall Street Journal, June 19, 1986
Faber’s simile pertained to the basic law that will govern Hong Kong in future.
- His [Brendan Sullivan’s] management (of Oliver North) is like one of those pictures that museum directors settle for labeling “Workshop of Veronese” because the hand of the master is not there for certain but his touch and teaching inarguably are —Murray Kempton, New York Post, December 12, 1986
Kempton’s simile describes the legal abilities of a member in the Edward Bennett Williams law firm, representing Colonel North during the Iran weapons scandal.
- I can walk like an ox, run like a fox, swim like an eel … make love like a mad bull —David Crockett, speech to Congress
- Instinct as sure as sight —Edgar Lee Masters
- Native ability without education is like a tree without fruit —Aristippus
- Natural abilities are like natural plants, that need pruning by study —Francis Bacon
- Played bridge like an inspired card sharp —Marjory Stoneman Douglas
- To see him [Chief Justice Hughes] preside was like witnessing Toscanini lead an orchestra —Justice Felix Frankfurter
- Skilled … like a mischievous and thieving animal —Émile Zola
- Skillful as jugglers —Daphne du Maurier
- Talent is like a faucet. While it is open, one must write (paint, etc.) —Jean Anouilh, New York Times, October 2, 1960
- Talent, like beauty, to be pardoned, must be obscure and unostentatious —Marguerite, Countess Blessington
- You must work at the talent as a sculptor works at stone, chiselling, plotting, rounding, edging and making perfect —Dylan Thomas
all is fish that comes to his net A proverbial phrase describing the luck of one for whom nothing ever goes awry because of a seemingly innate ability to turn everything to profit. Most fishermen expect to discover undesirable animals or debris in their nets, but the fortuitous fisherman’s net overflows with valuable fish only. The expression is used of one with an extraordinary capacity to develop invariably successful schemes and make consistently lucrative financial investments.
green thumb An above-average ability to grow plants; the knack of successfully cultivating and propagating plants. This phrase and its variant green fingers date from the early 1900s. A “green thumb” is like a magic touch which encourages rapid growth. Although the phrase is usually heard in the context of gardening, it can apply to any innate ability to make things grow and prosper.
“Success with money is often accidental,” she sighed. “One needs ‘green fingers’ to make it grow.” (Daily Telegraph, April 26, 1969)
keep one’s hand in To keep in practice, to dabble in, to maintain one’s proficiency in a certain activity. The expression usually implies sporadic or intermittent interest and activity.
know one’s beans See KNOWLEDGE.
the Midas touch An uncanny ability to make money; entrepreneurial expertise. Midas, legendary king of Phrygia, was divinely granted the power to transform anything he touched to gold. The gods relieved Midas of his power when the king realized that everything he touched, including food and his daughter, changed to gold. Still in general use, this expression often describes the moneymaking abilities of an entrepreneur.
Picasso, with his Midas touch, has at first try made the lino-cut a more dignified medium. (Times, July, 1960)
play a straight bat To know what you are doing, to know your business. This Briticism comes from the game of cricket.
to the manner born See STATUS.
ability capability capacity
You often use ability to say that someone can do something well.
A person's capability is the amount of work they can do and how well they can do it.
|Noun||1.||ability - the quality of being able to perform; a quality that permits or facilitates achievement or accomplishment|
adaptability - the ability to change (or be changed) to fit changed circumstances
quality - an essential and distinguishing attribute of something or someone; "the quality of mercy is not strained"--Shakespeare
sensitiveness, sensitivity - the ability to respond to affective changes in your interpersonal environment
competence, competency - the quality of being adequately or well qualified physically and intellectually
form - an ability to perform well; "he was at the top of his form"; "the team was off form last night"
interoperability - (computer science) the ability to exchange and use information (usually in a large heterogeneous network made up of several local area networks)
Midas touch - an ability to make and manage large amounts of money
penetration - the ability to make way into or through something; "the greater penetration of the new projectiles will result in greater injuries"
physical ability - the ability to perform some physical act; contrasting with mental ability
contractility - the capability or quality of shrinking or contracting, especially by muscle fibers and even some other forms of living matter
capability, capableness - the quality of being capable -- physically or intellectually or legally; "he worked to the limits of his capability"
totipotence, totipotency - the ability of a cell to give rise to unlike cells and so to develop a new organism or part; "animal cells lose their totipotency at an early stage in embryonic development"
immunocompetence - the ability to develop an immune response following exposure to an antigen
|2.||ability - possession of the qualities (especially mental qualities) required to do something or get something done; "danger heightened his powers of discrimination"|
know-how - the (technical) knowledge and skill required to do something
leadership - the ability to lead; "he believed that leadership can be taught"
intelligence - the ability to comprehend; to understand and profit from experience
aptitude - inherent ability
bilingualism - the ability to speak two languages colloquially
mental ability, capacity - the power to learn or retain knowledge; in law, the ability to understand the facts and significance of your behavior
originality - the ability to think and act independently
science, skill - ability to produce solutions in some problem domain; "the skill of a well-trained boxer"; "the sweet science of pugilism"
acquirement, skill, accomplishment, attainment, acquisition - an ability that has been acquired by training
hand - ability; "he wanted to try his hand at singing"
superior skill - more than ordinary ability
inability - lack of ability (especially mental ability) to do something
capability inability, incompetence, incapacity, powerlessness, incapability
ability to pay → solvencia f, recursos mpl
his ability in French → su aptitud para el francés
to the best of my ability → lo mejor que pueda or sepa
my ability to do it depends on → el que yo lo haga depende de ...
abilities (= competence) → compétences fpl
one's ability to do sth → sa capacité de faire qch, son aptitude à faire qch
to have the ability to do sth → être capable de faire qch
to have the ability to see → être capable de voir
to the best of my ability, to the best of my abilities → de mon mieux