able


able
able, capable, competent, qualified are close synonyms when they denote having marked power or fitness for work and are used attributively. Placed after the noun, able (followed by to and infinitive) and capable (followed by of) suggest mere possession of ability or capacity without any clear indication of its extent or quality
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they must be capable of living the life of the spirit . . . they must be able to cope intelligently with weighty problems of public policy— Grandgenty

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In general competent and qualified in predicative use suggest mere fitness in the one case and sufficient training in the other
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a servant competent to take full charge

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headmasters and education authorities want to be able to distinguish between those who are qualified to teach . . . and those who are not— Huxley

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On the other hand all four words are manifestly richer in implications when (especially in attributive use) they are thought of as characterizing persons or their activities.
Able then suggests ability markedly above the average; it often connotes power of mastery; it does not exclude the connotation of promise even when the emphasis is on performance
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able boys and girls will . . . submit willingly to severe discipline in order to acquire some coveted knowledge or skill— Russell

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Capable stresses possession of qualities such as adaptability, resourcefulness, versatility, industry, or efficiency and seldom indicates, apart from its context, the specific ability involved
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pretty and charming, but stupid . . . because she believes men prefer women to be useless and extravagant; if left to herself she would be a domestic and capable person— Millay

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Competent and qualified are used especially to characterize a person or his activities in relation to a specific calling
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a competent housekeeper

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a qualified accountant

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Competent implies the ability to satisfy capably all the special demands or requirements of a particular situation, craft, or profession, but it does not necessarily imply, as qualified usually does, compliance with set standards such as special training and the testing of one’s competence at the end of such training
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a qualified engineer

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a competent portraitist knows how to imply the profile in the full face— Huxley

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Analogous words: skilled, skillful, *proficient, expert: efficient, *effective: clever, brilliant, *intelligent, smart
Antonyms: inept (by nature, training): unable
Contrasted words: *incapable, incompetent, unqualified: inefficient, *ineffective: mediocre, fair, indifferent (see MEDIUM): maladroit (see AWKWARD)

New Dictionary of Synonyms. 2014.

Synonyms:

Look at other dictionaries:

  • -able — ♦ Élément, du lat. abilis, signifiant « qui peut être » (récupérable, ministrable) ou moins souvent « qui donne », « enclin à » (secourable, pitoyable). able Suffixe, du lat. abilis, qui peut être (ex. faisable, mangeable) ou enclin à être ( …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • Able — may refer to:In science and technology: * ABLE (nuclear weapon), a U.S. 1946 nuclear weapon test series * ABLE (programming language), a simplified programming language * Able space probes, probes in the Pioneer program * Able, one of the first… …   Wikipedia

  • -able — able, ible 1. general. These two suffixes are derived from Latin endings abilis and ibilis, either directly or through Old French. Of the two, able is an active suffix that can be freely added to the stems of transitive verbs, whereas the set of… …   Modern English usage

  • Able — A ble, a. [comp. {Abler}; superl. {Ablest}.] [OF. habile, L. habilis that may be easily held or managed, apt, skillful, fr. habere to have, hold. Cf. {Habile} and see {Habit}.] 1. Fit; adapted; suitable. [Obs.] [1913 Webster] A many man, to ben… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • able — ● able nom masculin (latin albulus, blanchâtre) Poisson d eau douce (cyprinidé), voisin de l ablette. ⇒ABLE, subst. masc. A. ICHTYOL. Terme générique désignant une variété de poissons d eau douce (cyprinidés) et de couleur claire. B. Poisson… …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • able to — The construction to be able to (do something), with an active to infinitive, is a natural part of the language, extending to inanimate as well as animate subjects • (By his proceeding to the beach…the next phase of the attack was able to proceed… …   Modern English usage

  • -able — a*ble ( [.a]*b l). [F. able, L. abilis.] An adjective suffix now usually in a passive sense; able to be; fit to be; expressing capacity or worthiness in a passive sense; as, movable, able to be moved; amendable, able to be amended; blamable, fit… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • able — adj 1: possessed of needed powers or of needed resources to accomplish an objective able to perform under the contract 2: having freedom from restriction or obligation or from conditions preventing an action able to vote 3: legally qualified:… …   Law dictionary

  • able — [ā′bəl] adj. abler [ā′blər] ablest [ā′bləst] [ME < OFr hable, habile < L habilis, easily handled, apt < habere, to have, hold: see HABIT] 1. having enough power, skill, etc. to do something [able to read] 2. having much power of mind;… …   English World dictionary

  • Able — de Heckel Able de Heckel …   Wikipédia en Français


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