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pl. Abilities. The quality or state of being able; power to perform, whether physical, moral, intellectual, conventional, or legal; capacity; skill or competence in doing; sufficiency of strength, skill, resources, etc.; - in the plural, faculty, talent. 


Syn. - Capacity; talent; cleverness; faculty; capability; efficiency; aptitude; aptness; address; dexterity; skill. These words come into comparison when applied to the higher intellectual powers. Ability has reference to the active exercise of our faculties. It implies not only native vigor of mind, but that ease and promptitude of execution which arise from mental training. Thus, we speak of the ability with which a book is written, an argument maintained, a negotiation carried on, etc. It always something to be done, and the power of doing it. Capacity has reference to the receptive powers. In its higher exercises it supposes great quickness of apprehension and breadth of intellect, with an uncommon aptitude for acquiring and retaining knowledge. Hence, it carries with it the idea of resources and undeveloped power. Thus, we speak of the extraordinary capacity of such men as Lord Bacon, Pascal, and Edmund Burke. 'Capacity,' says H. Taylor, 'is requisite to devise, and ability to execute, a ...

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