Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. The quality of being able to do something, especially the physical, mental, financial, or legal power to accomplish something.
  • n. A natural or acquired skill or talent.
  • n. The quality of being suitable for or receptive to a specified treatment; capacity: the ability of a computer to be configured for use as a file server. See Usage Note at able.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. 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.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. The state or condition of being able; power or capacity to do or act in any relation; competence in any occupation or field of action, from the possession of capacity, skill, means, or other qualification.
  • n. plural In a concrete sense, talents; mental gifts or endowments.
  • n. The condition of being able to pay or to meet pecuniary obligations; possession of means: called distinctively financial or pecuniary ability.
  • n. That which is within one's power to do; best endeavor.
  • n. Synonyms Ability, Capacity, power, strength, skill, dexterity; faculty, capability, qualification, efficiency. Ability denotes active power or power to perform, and is used with regard to power of any kind. Capacity conveys the idea of receptiveness, of the possession of resources; it is potential rather than actual, and may be no more than undeveloped ability. Ability is manifested in action, while capacity does not imply action, as when we speak of a capacity for virtue. Capacity is the gift of nature; ability is partly the result of education or opportunity.
  • n. Abilities, Talents, Parts, etc. (see genius), gifts, faculty, aptitude, accomplishments.
  • n. See -able, -bility, -ibility.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. possession of the qualities (especially mental qualities) required to do something or get something done
  • n. the quality of being able to perform; a quality that permits or facilitates achievement or accomplishment

Etymologies

Middle English abilite, from Old French habilite, from Latin habilitās, from habilis, handy; see able.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)

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