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Part or all of this entry has been imported from the 1913 edition of Webster’s Dictionary, which is now free of copyright and hence in the public domain. The imported definitions may be significantly out of date, and any more recent senses may be completely missing.
(See the entry for disability in
Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary, G. & C. Merriam, 1913.)


Circa 1570 disable +‎ -ity.


  • (UK) IPA(key): /dɪsəˈbɪlɪti/
    • (file)


disability (usually uncountable, plural disabilities)

  1. State of being disabled; deprivation or want of ability; absence of competent physical, intellectual, or moral power, means, fitness, and the like.
    • 1644, John Milton, The Doctrine or Discipline of Divorce:
      Grossest faults, or disabilities to perform what was covenanted.
    • 1834-1874, George Bancroft, History of the United States, from the Discovery of the American Continent.
      Chatham refused to see him, pleading his disability.
  2. A mental condition causing a difficulty with an intellectual task.
    Dyscalculia is math disability.
  3. Want of legal qualification to do a thing; legal incapacity or incompetency.
  4. (uncountable, informal) Regular payments received by a disabled person, usually from the state
    I had to go on disability after the accident.
    Did you get your disability this month?

Usage notesEdit

  • Disability and inability: Inability is an inherent want of power to perform the thing in question; disability arises from some deprivation or loss of the needed competency. One who becomes deranged is under a disability of holding his estate; and one who is made a judge, of deciding in his own case. A man may decline an office on account of his inability to discharge its duties; he may refuse to accept a trust or employment on account of some disability prevents him from entering into such engagements.


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