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From Old French lier (to bind), from Latin ligare (to bind, to tie).


  • IPA(key): /ˈlaɪ̯əbəl/, [ˈlaɪ̯əbɫ̩], [ˈlaɪ̯əbəɫ]
  • (file)
  • Rhymes: -aɪəbəl


liable (comparative more liable, superlative most liable)

  1. bound or obliged in law or equity; responsible; answerable.
    The surety is liable for the debt of his principal.
    • 1748, David Hume, Enquiries concerning the human understanding and concerning the principles of moral., London: Oxford University Press, published 1973, § 34:
    • 1749, Henry Fielding, The History of Tom Jones, a Foundling, volumes (please specify |volume=I to VI), London: A[ndrew] Millar, [], →OCLC:
      He inveighed against the folly of making oneself liable for the debts of others; vented many bitter execrations against the brother; and concluded with wishing something could be done for the unfortunate family.
      The passion for philosophy, like that for religion, seems liable to this inconvenience
  2. subject; susceptible.
    This crime is liable to imprisonment for life.
    A man liable to heart disease.
    • 1791, John Walker, A Critical Pronouncing Dictionary [] [1], London: Sold by G. G. J. and J. Robinſon, Paternoſter Row; and T. Cadell, in the Strand, →OCLC, page 211:
      ☞ This word [earth] is liable to a coarſe vulgar pronunciation, as if written Urth; []
  3. exposed to a certain contingency or causality, more or less probable.
  4. (as predicate, with "to" and an infinitive) likely.
    Someone is liable to slip on your icy sidewalk.

Related terms[edit]