• WordNet 3.6
    • n ability the quality of being able to perform; a quality that permits or facilitates achievement or accomplishment
    • n ability possession of the qualities (especially mental qualities) required to do something or get something done "danger heightened his powers of discrimination"
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Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary
  • Interesting fact: Psychokinesis refers to the ability of moving objects through psychic power
    • n Ability 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.""Natural abilities are like natural plants, that need pruning by study.""The public men of England, with much of a peculiar kind of ability ."
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Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia
  • Interesting fact: Despite his great scientific and artistic achievement, Leonardo Da Vinci was most proud of his ability to bend iron with his bare hands.
    • n ability 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 ability plural In a concrete sense, talents; mental gifts or endowments.
    • n ability The condition of being able to pay or to meet pecuniary obligations; possession of means: called distinctively financial or pecuniary ability.
    • n ability That which is within one's power to do; best endeavor.
    • n ability 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 ability Abilities, Talents, Parts, etc. (see genius), gifts, faculty, aptitude, accomplishments.
    • n ability See -able, -bility, -ibility.
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Chambers's Twentieth Century Dictionary
  • Interesting fact: The silkworm moth has lost the ability of flight due to domestication.
    • n Ability a-bil′i-ti quality of being able: power: strength: skill
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  • Orison Swett Marden
    “The Creator has not given you a longing to do that which you have no ability to do.”
  • John Henry Newman
    John Henry Newman
    “Ability hits the mark where presumption overshoots and diffidence falls short.”
  • Christabel Pankhurst
    Christabel Pankhurst
    “Ability is sexless.”
  • John G. Pollard
    John G. Pollard
    “Executive ability is deciding quickly and getting somebody else to do the work.”
  • Arthur Schopenhauer
    “Natural abilities can almost compensate for the want of every kind of cultivation, but no cultivation of the mind can make up for the want of natural abilities.”
  • Henry David Thoreau
    “I know of no more encouraging fact than the unquestionable ability of man to elevate his life by conscious endeavor.”


Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary
F. habileté, earlier spelling habilité,with silent h), L. habilitas, aptitude, ability, fr. habilis, apt. See Able
Chambers's Twentieth Century Dictionary
O. Fr. ableté (Fr. habileté)—L. habilitashabilis, easily handled, from habēre, to have, hold. See Able.


In literature:

It implies the ability to share our ideas, feelings or experiences with others.
"How to Add Ten Years to your Life and to Double Its Satisfactions" by S. S. Curry
He had imaginative power, ability to build for himself out of the void.
"The Long Roll" by Mary Johnston
The House of Lords has always contained a number of men of high integrity and ability.
"The Story of the Upper Canada Rebellion, Volume 1" by John Charles Dent
Many of them are of marked ability and decidedly energetic in character.
"Masterpieces of Negro Eloquence" by Various
A man of great energy, of noble impulses, and of undoubted ability.
"A Daughter of the Middle Border" by Hamlin Garland
It has given us the ability to work hard, and it has given us the ability to play hard.
"Dollars and Sense" by Col. Wm. C. Hunter
North and Watson were men of certain ability and certain gifts.
"A Political History of the State of New York, Volumes 1-3" by DeAlva Stanwood Alexander
Their ability to drain power.
"Masters of Space" by Edward Elmer Smith
The Germans were quick in appreciating his music, but it was not until after his death that his ability was conceded in France.
"The Standard Oratorios" by George P. Upton
But he found himself hampered by difficulties which even the ability of Cromwell or Wolsey could hardly have met.
"History of the English People" by John Richard Green

In poetry:

Sedea pensoso,--stringendo l'abile
Stil nella destra,--la intatta tavola
Sulle gambe giacente
Guardando avidamente.
"Anacreonte" by Ferdinando Fontana
I bade them to the Conference;
They came with meek humility;
And there I filled them with immense
Respect for my ability.
"The Dictator" by C J Dennis
Renounce thine own ability,
Lean to his promis'd might;
The strength of Israel cannot lie,
Thy Husband's pow'r is plight.
"The Believer's Jointure : Chapter I." by Ralph Erskine
With what thou gavest me, O Master,
I have wrought.
Such chances, such abilities,
To see the end was not for my poor eyes,
Thine was the impulse, thine the forming thought.
"Equipment" by Paul Laurence Dunbar
He was a man of open countenance and of great ability,
And late minister of Free St. Paul's Church, Dundee,
And during the twenty-nine years he remained as minister in Dundee
He struggled hard for the well-being of the community.
"The Death of the Rev. Dr. Wilson" by William Topaz McGonagall
And then when after much delay,
Much wrastling, many a combate, this deare end,
So much desir'd, is giv'n, to take away
My power to serve thee: to unbend.
All my abilities, my designes confound,
And lay my threatenings bleeding on the ground.
"The Crosse" by George Herbert

In news:

But preventing head lice first and foremost means reducing their ability to spread between people, Flinders and Altschuler said.
If your children are educated and self-supporting, it may be wise to focus first on your ability to retire comfortably before providing financial assistance.
We believe it does, because it gets right to the issue of integrity and personal conduct and trust and the ability to enforce standards.
Captain James CoBell III was relieved Thursday after the Navy said it lost confidence in his ability to command.
Steven Markowitz, Commoner 's successor as director of the Center for the Biology of Natural Systems at Queens College, praised the biologist's ability as a "brilliant translator" of complex scientific concepts.
For a man who was elected president partly on his ability to give a great speech, Barack Obama has been at times a surprisingly poor communicator in office and on the campaign trail.
It can be the foundation of a child's ability to succeed emotionally, socially and academically.
Excellent communication skills, people- oriented, self-motivation, interest in marketing products and services based on customer needs, ability to assess client needs, enthusiasm about insurance and financial products.
Whether it's brought enough to include commutations , and whether or not it overrides the governor's ability, which is a pretty sweeping ability to commute a sentence or to parole someone.
CIP has the unique ability to form near-net shape objects with higher green strengths and useful isotropic properties (i.e.
Storage consolidation and server virtualization instantly transform First Tennessee's disaster recovery abilities.
A tip of the hat to NFC West colleague Mike Sando, who flagged the latest offering from a fellow known as AdamJT13 -- a blogger who has gained some cyber-fame for his ability to predict the NFL's awarding of compensatory draft picks.
Research has turned from the infant's physical needs to his native abilities.
Due to its ability to live around humans and extreme camouflage, people frequently encounter them.
Apache, which has been drilling in the Anadarko basin for more than 50 years, will have expanded ability to produce oil and liquids from horizontal drilling by adding Cordillera 's acreage.

In science:

Typical random 3-SAT formulae and the satisfiability threshold.
On the critical exponents of random k-SAT
The probabilistic analysis of a greedy satisfiability algorithm, 2002.
On the critical exponents of random k-SAT
Critical behavior in the satisfiability of random Boolean expressions.
On the critical exponents of random k-SAT
Critical behavior in the computational cost of satisfiability testing.
On the critical exponents of random k-SAT
The complex dependence of C and n on microstructure is not well understood, and this remains a crucial problem in the ability to predict and optimize the elastic properties of cellular solids.
Elastic moduli of model random three-dimensional closed-cell cellular solids