A Dictionary of the English Language
                        A Digital Edition of the 1755 Classic by Samuel Johnson
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Abi'lity. n.s. [Habileté, Fr.]

  1. The power to do any thing, whether depending upon skill, or riches, or strength, or any other quality.

    Of singing thou hast got the reputation,
    Good Thyrsis, mine I yield to thy ability;
    My heart doth seek another estimation.
    Sidney, b. i.

    If aught in my ability may serve
    To heighten what thou suffer'st, and appease
    Thy mind with what amends is in my pow'r.
    Milton's Sampson Agonistes, l. 744.

    They gave after their ability unto the treasure of the work. Ezra ii. 69.

    If any man minister, let him do it as of the ability which God giveth: that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ. 1. Pet. iv. 11.

  2. Capacity.

    Children in whom there was no blemish, but well-favoured, and skilful in all wisdom, and cunning in knowledge, and understanding science, and such as had ability in them to stand in the king's palace. Dan. i. 4.

  3. When it has the plural number, abilities, it frequently signifies the faculties or powers of the mind, and sometimes the force of understanding given by nature, as distinguished from acquired qualifications.

    Wherever we find our abilities too weak for the performance, he assures us of the assistance of his holy spirit. Rogers's Sermons.

    Whether it may be thought necessary, that in certain tracts of country, like what we call parishes, there should be one man, at least, of abilities to read and write? Swift's Arguments against abolishing Christianity.

Sources: The Bible - 1. Peter (3) · The Bible - Daniel (6) · The Bible - Ezra (3) · Milton, John (449) · Rogers, John (38) · Sidney, Philip (140) · Swift, Jonathan (306)

Attributes: French (385) · Noun Substantive (1269)

Search for this word in: American Heritage · Cambridge · Dictionary.com · The Free Dictionary · Longman · Merriam-Webster · OneLook · Oxford Dictionaries · Vocabulary.com · Wiktionary · Wordnik

Cite this page: Johnson, Samuel. "Ability." A Dictionary of the English Language: A Digital Edition of the 1755 Classic by Samuel Johnson. Edited by Brandi Besalke. Last modified: January 12, 2014. https://johnsonsdictionaryonline.com/ability/.

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