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Ability definitions

Webster's 1828 Dictionary

ABIL'ITY, n. [L. habilitas, ableness, fitness, from habeo, to have or hold.]
1. Physical power, whether bodily or mental; natural or acquired; force of understanding; skill in arts or science. Ability is active power, or power to perform; as opposed to capacity, or power to receive. In the plural, abilities is much used in a like sense; and also for faculties of the mind, and acquired qualifications.
2. Riches, wealth, substance, which are the means, or which furnish the power, of doing certain acts.
They gave after their ability to the work. Ezek 2.
3. Moral power, depending on the will - a metaphysical and theological sense.
4. Civil or legal power, the power or right to do certain things, as an ability to transfer property or dispose of effects - ability to inherit. It is opposed to disability.

WordNet (r) 3.0 (2005)

1: the quality of being able to perform; a quality that permits or facilitates achievement or accomplishment [ant: inability, unfitness]
2: possession of the qualities (especially mental qualities) required to do something or get something done; "danger heightened his powers of discrimination" [syn: ability, power] [ant: inability]

Merriam Webster's

noun (plural -ties) Etymology: Middle English abilite, from Anglo-French, from Latin habilitat-, habilitas, from habilis apt, skillful more at able Date: 14th century 1. a. the quality or state of being able <ability of the soil to hold water>; especially physical, mental, or legal power to perform b. competence in doing ; skill 2. natural aptitude or acquired proficiency <children whose abilities warrant higher education>

Oxford Reference Dictionary

n. (pl. -ies) 1 (often foll. by to + infin.) capacity or power (has the ability to write songs). 2 cleverness, talent; mental power (a person of great ability; has many abilities). Etymology: ME f. OF ablete f. L habilitas -tatis f. habilis able

Webster's 1913 Dictionary

Ability A*bil"i*ty, n.; pl. Abilities. [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. Then the disciples, every man according to his ability, determined to send relief unto the brethren. --Acts xi. 29. Natural abilities are like natural plants, that need pruning by study. --Bacon. The public men of England, with much of a peculiar kind of ability. --Macaulay. 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.

Collin's Cobuild Dictionary

(abilities) Frequency: The word is one of the 1500 most common words in English. 1. Your ability to do something is the fact that you can do it. The public never had faith in his ability to handle the job... He has the ability to bring out the best in others. = capability N-SING: N to-inf, oft with poss 2. Your ability is the quality or skill that you have which makes it possible for you to do something. Her drama teacher spotted her ability... They repeatedly questioned his leadership abilities... Does the school cater for all abilities? N-VAR: oft with poss 3. If you do something to the best of your abilities or to the best of your ability, you do it as well as you can. I take care of them to the best of my abilities... PHRASE

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia

a-bil'-i-ti (dunamis, or ischus): Variously used of resources, material, mental and spiritual; e.g. of wealth, "gave after their ability" (Ezr 2:69); of mental endowment, "ability to stand in the king's palace" (Da 1:4); of talents and character, "several ability" (Mt 25:15); of spiritual strength, "minister, as of the ability which God giveth" (the King James Version 1Pe 4:11). It thus may signify either possessions, native capacity, or gifts of the Holy Spirit.

Soule's Dictionary of English Synonyms

n. 1. Power (to execute anything), ableness, force, potency, might, vigor, efficiency, efficacy, strength, energy, skill, skilfulness, dexterity, address, adroitness, cleverness, ingenuity, talent, aptitude, aptness, knack, expertness, facility, quickness, readiness. 2. Qualification, competency, sufficiency. 3. Capability, capableness, faculty, gift, parts, genius, endowment, calibre, forte, turn. See capacity.

Moby Thesaurus

ableness, address, adeptness, adequacy, adroitness, airmanship, aptitude, aptness, artfulness, artisanship, artistry, bravura, brilliance, bump, caliber, capability, capableness, capacity, capital, cleverness, command, competence, competency, condition, control, coordination, craft, craftsmanship, cunning, deftness, devices, dexterity, dexterousness, dextrousness, diplomacy, disposable resources, dower, dowry, efficacy, efficiency, endowment, equipment, expertise, expertism, expertness, facility, faculty, finesse, fitness, fittedness, flair, forte, funds, genius, gift, grace, grip, handiness, horsemanship, ingeniousness, ingenuity, instinct, knack, know-how, long suit, makings, marksmanship, mastership, mastery, maturity, means, method, metier, might, natural endowment, natural gift, parts, potential, power, powers, practical ability, preparedness, proficiency, prowess, qualification, quickness, readiness, recourses, resorts, resource, resourcefulness, resources, ripeness, savoir-faire, savvy, seamanship, seasoning, skill, skillfulness, speciality, stock, strong flair, strong point, style, sufficiency, suitability, suitableness, suitedness, supply, susceptibility, tact, tactfulness, talent, talents, technical brilliance, technical mastery, technical skill, technique, tempering, the goods, the stuff, timing, trim, virtuosity, ways, ways and means, what it takes, wherewith, wherewithal, wit, wizardry, workmanship

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