"sufficiently able, having power or capacity, qualified," 1590s, from French capable "able, sufficient; able to hold," or directly from Late Latin capabilis "receptive; able to grasp or hold," used by theologians, from Latin capax "able to hold much, broad, wide, roomy;" also "receptive, fit for;" adjectival form of capere "to grasp, lay hold, take, catch; undertake; take in, hold; be large enough for; comprehend" (from PIE root *kap- "to grasp"). Other late 16c. senses in English, now obsolete, were "able to comprehend; able to contain; extensive." Related: Capably.
updated on December 08, 2020