Printable Version
Pronunciation: æ-rê-bêl Hear it!

Part of Speech: Adjective

Meaning: 1. Cultivatable, suitable for farming, good for raising crops. 2. (UK) Engaged in farming arable land, as 'an arable farmer'.

Notes: Here is an agricultural term that folks in Britain use as a noun meaning "land suitable for growing crops". Otherwise, the noun associated with it is arability. Since it is hard to think of any use for it, the imaginable adverb, arably, seems to have never been used.

In Play: This word is by far most often used in reference to land: "After three years of cultivating a failing garden, Al Falfa excused himself by claiming that the land was not arable." Again: "An interesting fact is that biofuels are made from food crops grown on arable land."

Word History: Today's Good Word was "lent" to English by Old French, which inherited it from Latin arabilis "plowable", the passive adjective from arare "to plow". Arare was based on PIE aro- "to plow", also the source of Greek aroyn, Welsh arddu, Russian orat', Polish orać, and Serbian orati—all meaning "to plow". Lithuanian turned the same PIE word into arimas "arable, tillage". In Breton arar means "a plow", in Latvian arkls means "a plow", and in Armenian aror also means "a plow". (Now let's all thank Dan Obertance, who spotted the interest in today's agricultural Good Word and shared it with us.)

Dr. Goodword,

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