early 15c., "suitable for plowing" (as opposed to pasture- or wood-land), from Old French arable (12c.), from Latin arabilis, from arare "to plow," from PIE root *erie- "to plow" (source also of Greek aroun, Old Church Slavonic orja, orati, Lithuanian ariu, arti "to plow;" Gothic arjan, Old English erian, Middle Irish airim, Welsh arddu "to plow;" Old Norse arþr "a plow," Middle Irish arathar, Armenian arawr, Lithuanian arklas "a plow"). By late 18c. it replaced native erable, from Old English erian "to plow," from the same PIE source. Related: Arability.
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