mid-15c., "bound or obliged by law," from Old French lier, liier "to bind, tie up, fasten, tether; bind by obligation" (12c.), from Latin ligare "to bind, to tie" (from PIE root *leig- "to tie, bind"). With -able.
Perhaps it is from an Anglo-French *liable, or from an unattested word in Old French or Medieval Latin. The general sense of "exposed to" (something undesirable) is attested by 1590s. The unetymological use for "likely" is attested by 1850.
updated on May 31, 2022