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Part or all of this entry has been imported from the 1913 edition of Webster’s Dictionary, which is now free of copyright and hence in the public domain. The imported definitions may be significantly out of date, and any more recent senses may be completely missing.
(See the entry for enable in
Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary, G. & C. Merriam, 1913.)


From Middle English enablen, equivalent to en- +‎ able.



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enable (third-person singular simple present enables, present participle enabling, simple past and past participle enabled)

  1. To give strength or ability to; to make firm and strong.
  2. To make able (to do, or to be, something); to confer sufficient power upon; to furnish with means, opportunities, and the like; to render competent for.
    Synonyms: empower, endow
    • 1711, October 13, Joseph Addison, The Spectator, number 195
      Temperance gives Nature her full play, and enables her to exert herself in all her force and vigor.
    • 2013 June 29, “A punch in the gut”, in The Economist, volume 407, number 8842, page 72-3:
      Mostly, the microbiome is beneficial. It helps with digestion and enables people to extract a lot more calories from their food than would otherwise be possible. Research over the past few years, however, has implicated it in diseases from atherosclerosis to asthma to autism.
  3. To allow a way out or excuse for an action.
    His parents enabled him to go on buying drugs.
  4. To activate a function of an electronical or mechanical device.
    Synonyms: activate, turn on
    Antonyms: disable

Derived terms[edit]


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Further reading[edit]