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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 make somebody able (to do, or to be, something); to give sufficient ability or power to do or to be; to give strength or ability to.
    • 1611, King James Bible, "1 Tim. i. 12"
      And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who hath enabled me, for that he counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry; who was before a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and injurious: but I obtained mercy, because I did it ignorantly in unbelief.
    Synonyms: empower, endow
  2. To affirm; to make firm and strong.
  3. To qualify or approve for some role or position; to render sanction or authorization to; to confirm suitability for.
    Synonyms: let, permit, authorize
  4. To yield the opportunity or provide the possibility for something; to provide with means, opportunities, and the like.
    Synonym: allow
    • 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.
    • April 16, 2018, Norimitsu Onishi and Selam Gebrekidan writing in The New York Times, ‘They Eat Money’: How Mandela’s Political Heirs Grow Rich Off Corruption
    • 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.
    • 2009, Meribeth A. Dayme, Dynamics of the Singing Voice, Springer Science & Business Media, p. 174:
      Trainers of modern athletes monitor performance by using high tech equipment and biometric bodysuits with embedded sensors to enable detailed analysis of movement, balance, efficiency for athletic performance.
  5. To imply or tacitly confer excuse for an action or a behavior.
    His parents enabled him to go on buying drugs.
  6. (electronics) To put a circuit element into action by supplying a suitable input pulse.
  7. (chiefly electronics, computing) To activate, to make operational (especially of a function of an electronic or mechanical device).
    Synonyms: activate, turn on
    Antonym: disable

Derived terms[edit]


The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout § Translations.

Further reading[edit]