Ability
Ability A*bil"i*ty ([.a]*b[i^]l"[i^]*t[y^]), n.; pl. {Abilities} ([.a]*b[i^]l"[i^]*t[i^]z). [F. habilet['e], earlier spelling habilit['e] (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. [1913 Webster]

Then the disciples, every man according to his ability, determined to send relief unto the brethren. --Acts xi. 29. [1913 Webster]

Natural abilities are like natural plants, that need pruning by study. --Bacon. [1913 Webster]

The public men of England, with much of a peculiar kind of ability. --Macaulay. [1913 Webster]

Syn: Capacity; talent; cleverness; faculty; capability; efficiency; aptitude; aptness; address; dexterity; skill.

Usage: {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. [1913 Webster]


The Collaborative International Dictionary of English. 2000.

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  • Ability — may be: * aptitude * ability to pay * Intelligence * physical ability * skill * expertiseAbility: The way to do something.Ability may also refer to: * Ability score, in role playing games * Ability Plus Software, makers of the office suite… …   Wikipedia

  • ability — I noun ableness, adaptability, adeptness, adequacy, aptitude, aptness, capability, capacity, competence, competency, enablement, facultas, faculty, fitness, fittedness, ingenium, mastership, mastery, potentiality, potestas, proficiency, prowess,… …   Law dictionary

  • ability — ability, capacity, capability are often confused in use. Ability primarily denotes the quality or character of being able (as to do or perform) and is applied chiefly to human beings. Capacity in its corresponding sense means the power or more… …   New Dictionary of Synonyms

  • ability — UK US /əˈbɪləti/ noun [C or U] ► the power or skill needed to do something, or the fact that someone is able to do something: »There s no doubting her ability. the ability to do sth »A good leader has the ability to motivate people. »We like our… …   Financial and business terms

  • -ability — suffix expressing ability, fitness, or capacity, from L. abilitas, forming nouns from adjectives ending in abilis (see ABLE (Cf. able)). Not etymologically related to ABILITY (Cf. ability), though popularly connected with it …   Etymology dictionary

  • ability — [n1] power to act, perform aptitude, capability, capacity, competence, competency, comprehension, dexterity, endowment, facility, faculty, intelligence, might, potentiality, qualification, resourcefulness, skill, strength, talent, understanding;… …   New thesaurus

  • -ability — [ə bil′ə tē] [L abilitas: see ABLE & ITY] suffix forming nouns a (specified) ability, capacity, or tendency …   English World dictionary

  • -ability — [əbılıti] suffix also ibility [: Old French; Origin: abilité, from Latin abilitas, from abilis; ABLE] makes nouns from adjectives ending in ↑ able and ↑ ible ▪ manageability ▪ suitability …   Dictionary of contemporary English

  • -ability — [ ə bıləti ] suffix used with adjectives ending in able to make nouns meaning a particular quality: suitability dependability …   Usage of the words and phrases in modern English

  • ability — (n.) late 14c., from O.Fr. ableté expert at handling (something), from L. habilitatem (nom. habilitas) aptitude, noun of quality from habilis easy to manage, handy (see ABLE (Cf. able)). One case where a Latin silent h failed to make a return in… …   Etymology dictionary

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