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The following statistics are based on the British National Corpus, so they are representative for the British English.

Distribution of usage frequency for the most common synonyms of the noun ability:


Comparison of usage frequency between the noun ability and its most common antonym:

Video footage: Young Springbok Testing his Leaping Ability
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Definition of the noun ability

What does ability mean as a name of something?

Ability is one of the top 1000 most common nouns in the English language.

noun - plural: abilities

  1. the quality of being able to perform; a quality that permits or facilitates achievement or accomplishment
    • lexical domain: Attributes - nouns denoting attributes of people and objects
    • antonym: inability
    • more generic word: quality = an essential and distinguishing attribute of something or someone
    • more specific terms:
      • adaptability = the ability to change (or be changed) to fit changed circumstances
      • sensitiveness / sensitivity = the ability to respond to affective changes in your interpersonal environment
      • competence / competency = the quality of being adequately or well qualified physically and intellectually
      • form = an ability to perform well
      • interoperability = the ability to exchange and use information
      • magical ability / magical power = an ability to perform magic
      • Midas touch = an ability to make and manage large amounts of money
      • penetration = the ability to make way into or through something
      • physical ability = the ability to perform some physical act
      • contractility = the capability or quality of shrinking or contracting, especially by muscle fibers and even some other forms of living matter
      • capableness / capability = the quality of being capable -- physically or intellectually or legally
      • totipotence / totipotency = the ability of a cell to give rise to unlike cells and so to develop a new organism or part
      • immunocompetence = the ability to develop an immune response following exposure to an antigen
    • attributes:
      • able = having the necessary means or skill or know-how or authority to do something
      • unable = not having the necessary means or skill or know-how
  2. possession of the qualities (especially mental qualities) required to do something or get something done

Alternative definition of the noun ability


  1. [uncountable] The quality or state of being able.
  2. [countable] A skill or competence.
  3. [uncountable, countable] A high level of skill or competence.
  4. [uncountable] Suitability or receptiveness to be acted upon.

Specialised definition of the noun ability

Glossary of sports

general capacity to perform on a range of motor skills. Relatively permanent and enduring after childhood, and underlying the person's present state. Through to be both genetically determined and influenced by learning experiences. (Mark H. Anshel. 1991. Dictionary of the Sport and Exercise Sciences. Human Kinetics Books Champaign, Illinois)

a natural tendency to do something successfully or well (2006. Dictionary of Sport and Exercise Science. A&C Black Publishers Ltd)

a high degree of intelligence or competence (2006. Dictionary of Sport and Exercise Science. A&C Black Publishers Ltd)

a particular gift for doing something well (2006. Dictionary of Sport and Exercise Science. A&C Black Publishers Ltd)


  1. Ability is a webtoon written by Son Jae Ho and illustrated by Lee Gwang Su. Started on 2012, the webtoon manhwa was released on Naver and is still publishing. The author and artist of Ability also created the manhwa Noblesse.
  2. The Ability was a wooden ketch of 48 tons, owned by J. Breckenridge and built at William Woodward in 1878. She ran aground at Cape Hawke, New South Wales, in 1897.
  3. The Ability was a wooden Steamer coastal transport cargo ship of 140 tons, owned by Parsons, R & Plunkett. Ship was scuttled and abandoned off Newcastle, New South Wales on 3 June 1960 or off Sydney on 3 April 1965.

Phrases with Ability

  1. Ability-to-Pay
  2. -Ability
  3. mental ability
  4. magical ability
  5. natural ability
  6. learning ability
  7. physical ability

Printed dictionaries and other books with definitions for Ability

Click on a title to look inside that book (if available):

Google previewDay's Collacon: an Encyclopaedia of Prose Quotations (1884)

Consisting of Beautiful Thoughts, Choice Extracts and Sayings, of the Most Eminent Writers of All Nations, from the Earliest Ages to the Present Time, Together with a Comprehensive Biographical Index of Authors, and an Alphabetical List of Subjects Quoted

Ability is a poor man's wealth. Let each...

Ability is that sufficiency which cometh from God.

Ability is the power of applying knowledge to practical purposes.

Human ability is an unequal match for the unforeseen vicissitudes of life.

Google previewEducation, Social Background and Cognitive Ability (2013)

The Decline of the Social by Gary N. Marks

Cognitive ability is an important concept in the social sciences, not only in psychology, but also in education, sociology and economics. In psychology, cognitive ability is a key concept involved in a range of mental processes, including problem solving, adaptation,

Google previewSelf-Improvement (2011)

An Essay in Kantian Ethics by Robert N. Johnson

A complex ability is a unified set of basic sub-abilities.

Google previewRethinking Disability (2012)

Bodies, Senses, and Things by Michael Schillmeier

dis/ability is the outcomeof human and nonhuman configurations and suggeststhat...

Rather, dis/ability refers to complex sets of heterogeneous practices that (re)associate bodies, material objects,and ...

Google previewUniversal Design as a Rehabilitation Strategy (2012)

Design for the Ages by Jon A. Sanford, M.Arch

Ability is the quality of being able to do something.

Google previewHybrid Cultivar Development (1998)

by S.S. Banga, S.K. Banga

General combining ability is the average performance of an inbred line in a series of hybrid combinations, whereas specific...

ability refers to the deviation of the hybrid from the performance expected on the basis of general combining ability.

Google previewEmotional Intelligence 101 (2011)

by Moshe Zeidner, PhD, Gerald Matthews, PhD, Richard D. Roberts, PhD

The first dimension is whether the ability refers to personal emotions or to dealing with the emotions of others. The distinction here echoes an earlier division between intrapersonal and interpersonal abilities made by Gardner (1993). Gardner ...

Google previewAdult Development and Aging (2014)

by John C. Cavanaugh, Fredda Blanchard-Fields

Unexercised ability is the ability a normal, healthy adult would exhibit withoutpractice or training. Fluid intelligence is thought to be an example of untrained ability, because by definition, it does not depend on experience and is unlikely to be ...

Google previewDyslexia: From Theory to Intervention (2000)

by Torleiv Høien, Per Sundberg

CHAPTER 2 DECODING DIFFICULTIES - A MAJOR SYMPTOM OF DYSLEXIA Reading ability is a complex skill that builds on a number of decoding and comprehension processes. Decoding allows the reader to recognize and pronounce the ...

Google previewA Lexicon of Psychology, Psychiatry and Psychoanalysis (2015)

by Jessica Kuper

gf Fluid ability: This is the basic reasoning ability ...

Google previewEncyclopedia of Career Development (2006)

by Jeffrey H. Greenhaus, Gerard A. Callanan

Reasoning, judging, reading, writing, mathematical reasoning, and related capabilities reflect mental capacity or cognitive ability. Abilities related to muscular activities and bodily movement are labeled psychomotor abilities. Examples of ...

Google previewEncyclopedia of International Sports Studies (2012)

by Roger Bartlett, Chris Gratton, Christer G. Rolf

POTTEIGER GOAL ORIENTATION GOAL ORIENTATION The way an athlete evaluates personal ability and success in athletic performance is known as goal orientation. Since the introduction of achievement goal theory to sport, ...

Google previewHistorical Dictionary of School Segregation and Desegregation (1998)

The American Experience by Jeffrey A. Raffel

ABILITY GROUPING. The placement of students with purportedly similar abilities or attainment into the same classroom, educational program, or instructional group. The placement may range from temporary groups in individual classrooms to ...

Google previewThe Encyclopedia of Middle Grades Education (2005)

by Vincent A. Anfara, Gayle Andrews, Steven B. Mertens

The educational terms "tracking" and "ability grouping" are often seen as synonymous, and since tracking is widely viewed to have negative effects, so is ability grouping. While the two can share very similar characteristics depending on how ...

Google previewEncyclopedia of Education and Human Development (2015)

by Stephen J. Farenga, Immanuel Ness

̄ Ability grouping involves creating grouping arrangements that are made up of students who are believed to be similar in the skills that are required for particular instruction. For example, ability grouping might be based on academic skills in ...

Online dictionaries and encyclopedias with entries for Ability

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Photos about Ability

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Small photo of Expertise Ability Skilled Professional Excellence ConceptSmall photo of Professional Ability Skilled Expertise Proficiency ConceptSmall photo of Creation Ability Aspiration Ability Innovation Skills ConceptSmall photo of Photo of plants growing from soil heaps holding paper tags with ABILITY conceptual wordsSmall photo of Ability Achievement Inspiration Improvement ConceptSmall photo of Creation Ability Aspiration Ability Innovation Skills ConceptSmall photo of Creation Ability Aspiration Ability Innovation Skills Concept More...

Video language resources about Ability

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Sign language

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Quotes about Ability

Consider the postage stamp: its usefulness consists in the ability to stick to one thing till it gets there. (Josh Billings)
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Scrabble value of A1B3I1L1I1T1Y4

The value of this 7-letter word is 12 points. It is included in the first and second editions of the Official Scrabble Players Dictionary.

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