- The definition of liable is being likely to do or experience something or to having legal responsibility for something.
- An example of liable is when it is likely to rain.
- An example of liable is a person who hits someone else with his car and he must pay damages or compensation for the damage he caused.
liable definition by Webster's New World
- legally bound or obligated, as to make good any loss or damage that occurs in a transaction; responsible
- likely to have, suffer from, etc.; exposed to or subject to: liable to heart attacks
- subject to the possibility of; likely (to do, have, get, etc. something unpleasant or unwanted): liable to cause hard feelings
Origin: probably via Anglo-French ; from Old French lier, to bind ; from Classical Latin ligare, to bind (see ligature) plush -able
liable definition by American Heritage Dictionary
- Legally obligated; responsible: liable for military service. See Synonyms at responsible.
- At risk of or subject to experiencing or suffering something unpleasant. Used with to: liable to criminal charges; liable to diabetes.
- Likely. Often used with reference to an unfavorable outcome: In a depression banks are liable to fail.
Origin: Middle English, probably from Old French lier, to bind, from Latin ligāre; see leig- in Indo-European roots.Usage Note: Liable, apt, and likely are often used interchangeably in constructions with infinitives, as in Zach is liable to lose, Zach is apt to lose, and Zach is likely to lose, but the three words have subtle distinctions in meaning. A traditional rule holds that liable should be used only if the subject would be adversely affected by the outcome expressed by the infinitive. The rule therefore permits Tim is liable to fall out of his chair if he doesn't sit up straight but not The chair is liable to be slippery, though constructions of the latter type have long been common in reputable writing. • Apt usually suggests that the subject has a natural tendency enhancing the probability of an outcome and that the speaker is somewhat apprehensive about the outcome. Thus apt is more naturally used in a sentence like The fuel pump is apt to give out at any minute than in Even the clearest instructions are apt to be misinterpreted by those idiots (since the instructions are not at fault) or in The fuel pump is apt to give you no problems for the life of the car (since there is no reason that the speaker should regard such an outcome as unfortunate). • Likely is more general than either liable or apt. It ascribes no particular property to the subject that would enhance the probability of the outcome. Thus, while John is apt to lose the election may suggest that the loss will result from something John does or fails to do, John is likely to lose the election does not. Nor does it suggest anything about the desirability of the outcome from the point of view of either the speaker or the subject. See Usage Note at likely.