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-able — (O)F. -able — L. -ābilis, produced orig. by the addition of -bilis -BLE to vbs. with ā-stems, as amāre, amābilis, but extended to vbs. with other stems, e.g. capere, capābilis CAPABLE, and to sbs., as amīcābilis AMICABLE, favōrābilis FAVOURABLE. Eng. formations on sbs. are actionable, pleasurable, saleable (XVI). The meaning in new formations is now always passive, but the active meaning, always formerly possible, is seen in agreeable, comfortable, durable, suitable. The wide application of the suffix in Eng. is largely due to assoc. with ABLE, eatable (e.g.) being analysed as eat + able ‘able to be eaten’ hence its use in come-at-able (XVII), get-at-able (XVIII). Notable formations are knowledgeable and reliable. The corr. advs. end in -ably.

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