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adj. a·bler, a·blest
1. Having sufficient power or resources to accomplish something: a singer able to reach high notes; a detergent able to remove stains.
2. Usage Problem Susceptible to action or treatment: The brakes were able to be fixed.
3. Especially capable or proficient: The new programmers proved to be very able.

[Middle English, from Old French, from Latin habilis, from habēre, to handle; see ghabh- in Indo-European roots.]

a′bly (ā′blē) adv.
Usage Note: The construction able to takes an infinitive to show the subject's ability to accomplish something: We were able to finish the project thanks to a grant from a large corporation. The new submarine is able to dive twice as fast as the older model. Subjects to which people don't ascribe active roles tend to sound awkward in this construction, especially in passive constructions involving forms of the verb be, as in The problem was able to be solved by using this new method. Here, the use of the passive underscores the subject's not taking an active role, while the use of able suggests the opposite, creating a conflict. In our 2005 survey, only 24 percent of the Usage Panel accepted able in a sentence like this, though 54 percent accepted the use of capable instead (the problem was capable of being solved), suggesting that capable is less jarring. It may be easier just to substitute can or could, which are standard: The problem could be solved by using this new method.
American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright © 2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.


1. (postpositive) having the necessary power, resources, skill, time, opportunity, etc, to do something: able to swim.
2. capable; competent; talented: an able teacher.
3. (Law) law qualified, competent, or authorized to do some specific act
[C14: ultimately from Latin habilis easy to hold, manageable, apt, from habēre to have, hold + -ilis -ile]
Collins English Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged, 12th Edition 2014 © HarperCollins Publishers 1991, 1994, 1998, 2000, 2003, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2011, 2014


(ˈeɪ bəl)

adj. a•bler, a•blest.
1. having the necessary power, skill, resources, or qualifications to do something: able to read music; not able to vote.
2. having or showing unusual talent, intelligence, skill, or knowledge: an able leader.
[1275–1325; Middle English < Middle French < Latin habilis easy to handle, adaptable =hab(ēre) to have, hold + -ilis -ile1]


a suffix meaning “capable of, susceptible of, fit for, tending to, given to,” associated in meaning with the word able, occurring in loanwords from Latin (laudable); used in English to form adjectives from stems of any origin (teachable; photographable).
Compare -ble, -ible.
[Middle English < Old French < Latin -ābilis]
Random House Kernerman Webster's College Dictionary, © 2010 K Dictionaries Ltd. Copyright 2005, 1997, 1991 by Random House, Inc. All rights reserved.



Able and capable are both used to say that someone can do something.

1. 'able'

If someone is able to do something, they can do it either because of their knowledge or skill, or because it is possible.

He wondered if he would be able to climb over the fence.
They were able to use their profits for new investments.

If you use a past tense, you mean that someone has actually done something.

We were able to reduce costs.
2. 'capable'

If someone is capable of doing something, they have the knowledge and skill to do it.

The workers are perfectly capable of running the organization themselves.

You can say that someone is capable of a particular feeling or action.

He's capable of loyalty.
I don't believe he's capable of murder.

You can also use capable of when you are talking about what something such as a car or machine can do.

The car was capable of 110 miles per hour.
3. 'able' or 'capable'

If you describe someone as able or capable, you mean that they do things well.

He's certainly a capable gardener.
Naomi was a hard-working and able student.
Collins COBUILD English Usage © HarperCollins Publishers 1992, 2004, 2011, 2012
ThesaurusAntonymsRelated WordsSynonymsLegend: - (usually followed by `to') having the necessary means or skill or know-how or authority to do somethingable - (usually followed by `to') having the necessary means or skill or know-how or authority to do something; "able to swim"; "she was able to program her computer"; "we were at last able to buy a car"; "able to get a grant for the project"
unable - (usually followed by `to') not having the necessary means or skill or know-how; "unable to get to town without a car"; "unable to obtain funds" - have the skills and qualifications to do things wellable - have the skills and qualifications to do things well; "able teachers"; "a capable administrator"; "children as young as 14 can be extremely capable and dependable"
competent - properly or sufficiently qualified or capable or efficient; "a competent typist" - having inherent physical or mental ability or capacityable - having inherent physical or mental ability or capacity; "able to learn"; "human beings are able to walk on two feet"; "Superman is able to leap tall buildings"
capable - (usually followed by `of') having capacity or ability; "capable of winning"; "capable of hard work"; "capable of walking on two feet" - having a strong healthy bodyable - having a strong healthy body; "an able seaman"; "every able-bodied young man served in the army"
fit - physically and mentally sound or healthy; "felt relaxed and fit after their holiday"; "keeps fit with diet and exercise"
Based on WordNet 3.0, Farlex clipart collection. © 2003-2012 Princeton University, Farlex Inc.


2. (with to) in a position to, capable of, allowed to, free to, up to I'd like to be able to study in peace.
Collins Thesaurus of the English Language – Complete and Unabridged 2nd Edition. 2002 © HarperCollins Publishers 1995, 2002


Having the ability to perform well:
The American Heritage® Roget's Thesaurus. Copyright © 2013, 2014 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
قادِرقَادِر عَلَىمُؤَهَّلمَاهِرْ، بَارِع
dygtigi stand tilkompetentkunnesund
fær , getahæfur
할 수 있는
apdāvināts, kompetentsspējīgs
biti zmožennadarjensposoben
có khả năng


1. to be able to do sth (of acquired skills) → saber hacer algo; (other contexts) → poder hacer algo
the child isn't able to walk (yet)el niño no sabe andar (todavía)
he's not able to walkno puede andar
come as soon as you are ableven en cuanto puedas
I was eventually able to escapepor fin pude escaparme, por fin logré escaparme
able to paysolvente
2. (= capable) [person] → capaz; [piece of work] → sólido
she is one of our ablest pupilses una de nuestras alumnas más capaces
B. CPD able seaman Nmarinero m de primera or patentado
Poder and saber can both translate to be able to, can and could.
 Use saber when to be able to, can and could mean "know how to":
Can you type? ¿Sabes escribir a máquina? His wife couldn't drive Su mujer no sabía conducir
Other contexts
 Generally, use poder:
He can stay here Puede quedarse aquí We have not been able to persuade them No hemos podido convencerlos
NOTE When can and could are followed by find or a verb of perception - see, hear, feel, taste or smell - they are usually not translated:
I can't find it No lo encuentro What can you see? ¿Qué ves?
Alternatives to "poder"
 When to be able means "to be capable of", you can often use ser capaz de as an alternative to poder:
I don't think he'll be able to resist it No creo que sea capaz de or pueda resistirlo
Collins Spanish Dictionary - Complete and Unabridged 8th Edition 2005 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1971, 1988 © HarperCollins Publishers 1992, 1993, 1996, 1997, 2000, 2003, 2005


[ˈeɪbəl] adj
to be able to do sth (= be in a position to) → pouvoir faire qch
It would be nice to be able to afford to retire early → Ce serait agréable de pouvoir se permettre de prendre sa retraite plus tôt.
(capability) to be able to do sth (= be capable of) → être capable de faire qch
This frog is able to jump three metres → Cette grenouille est capable de faire des bonds de trois mètres.
(knowledge) to be able to do sth (= know how to) → savoir faire qch
He is able to read and write → Il sait lire et écrire.
(= talented) [pupil, student, musician] → doué(e)able-bodied [ˌeɪbəlˈbɒdid]
adj (as opposed to disabled)valide
the able-bodied → les personnes fpl validesable-bodied seaman n (British)matelot m breveté
Collins English/French Electronic Resource. © HarperCollins Publishers 2005


(= skilled, talented) personfähig, kompetent; piece of work, exam paper, speechgekonnt
to be able to do somethingetw tun können; if you’re not able to understand thatwenn Sie nicht fähig sind, das zu verstehen; I’m afraid I am not able to give you that informationich bin leider nicht in der Lage, Ihnen diese Informationen zu geben; you are better able to do it than he isSie sind eher dazu in der Lage als er; yes, if I’m ableja, wenn es mir möglich ist
Collins German Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged 7th Edition 2005. © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1980 © HarperCollins Publishers 1991, 1997, 1999, 2004, 2005, 2007


[ˈeɪbl] adj (person) → capace, bravo/a; (piece of work) → abile, intelligente
to be able to do sth → poter fare qc, essere in grado di fare qc
he's not able to walk → non può or non è in grado di or non è in condizione di camminare
those who are able to pay → coloro che sono in condizione or che possono permettersi di pagare
Collins Italian Dictionary 1st Edition © HarperCollins Publishers 1995


(ˈeibl) adjective
1. having enough strength, knowledge etc to do something. He was able to open the door; He will come if he is able.
2. clever and skilful; capable. a very able nurse.
3. legally competent. able to vote.
ˈably adverb
Kernerman English Multilingual Dictionary © 2006-2013 K Dictionaries Ltd.


قادِر schopný være i stand til fähig ικανός capaz kykenevä capable sposoban capace ・・・ができる 할 수 있는 bekwaam dyktig zdolny capaz способный skicklig สามารถ muktedir có khả năng
Multilingual Translator © HarperCollins Publishers 2009


a. hábil, capaz, apto-a;
to be ___[to be or do something] ser capaz de; poder.
English-Spanish Medical Dictionary © Farlex 2012
References in classic literature ?
One government can collect and avail itself of the talents and experience of the ablest men, in whatever part of the Union they may be found.
Some of our highest and ablest men, men of real genius, have during their earliest days laboured under deviations as great as, or even greater than, forty-five minutes: and the loss of their precious lives would have been an irreparable injury to the State.
Certainly the ablest men that ever were, have had all an openness, and frankness, of dealing; and a name of certainty and veracity; but then they were like horses well managed; for they could tell passing well, when to stop or turn; and at such times, when they thought the case indeed required dissimulation, if then they used it, it came to pass that the former opinion, spread abroad, of their good faith and clearness of dealing, made them almost invisible.
"Perhaps, then, you would bestow it as a reward on that person who wrote the ablest defence of your favourite maxim, that no one can ever be in love more than once in their life--your opinion on that point is unchanged, I presume?"
An absolute or qualified negative in the executive upon the acts of the legislative body, is admitted, by the ablest adepts in political science, to be an indispensable barrier against the encroachments of the latter upon the former.
As such she was a mighty power behind the throne, for no warrior had the confidence of Lorquas Ptomel to such an extent as did his ablest lieutenant, Tars Tarkas.
"It is very remarkable to observe how many of the ablest orators in the British Parliament were favorable to America," said Grandfather.
I used both their names without scruple; and I wrote my recommendation in terms which the best of living women and the ablest of existing dressmakers could never have hoped to merit.
We look upon him to be one of the ablest men at a cut in all this neighbourhood.
I durst make no return to this malicious insinuation, which debased human understanding below the sagacity of a common hound, who has judgment enough to distinguish and follow the cry of the ablest dog in the pack, without being ever mistaken.
I was taught first to read and write, and then to learn the Koran, which is the basis of our holy religion, and the better to understand it, I read with my tutors the ablest commentators on its teaching, and committed to memory all the traditions respecting the Prophet, which have been gathered from the mouth of those who were his friends.
Brott was probably at that time the ablest politician of either party in the country.