Ability vs Chance - What's the difference?

ability | chance |

As a noun ability

is (obsolete) suitableness .

As a proper noun chance is

, an american pet form of chauncey, in modern usage also associated with the word chance.

Other Comparisons: What's the difference?



Alternative forms

* (obsolete) hability


  • (obsolete) Suitableness.
  • (uncountable) The quality or state of being able; capacity to do; capacity of doing something; having the necessary power.
  • *{{quote-magazine, date=2013-07-19, author=(Peter Wilby)
  • , volume=189, issue=6, page=30, magazine=(The Guardian Weekly) , title=[http://www.theguardian.com/education/2013/jul/01/education-michael-gove-finland-gcse Finland spreads word on schools] , passage=Imagine a country where children do nothing but play until they start compulsory schooling at age seven. Then, without exception, they attend comprehensives until the age of 16. Charging school fees is illegal, and so is sorting pupils into ability groups by streaming or setting.}}
  • The legal wherewithal to act.
  • *{{quote-magazine, date=2013-06-22, volume=407, issue=8841, page=68, magazine=(The Economist)
  • , title=[http://www.economist.com/news/finance-and-economics/21579860-g8-pledges-tackle-three-ts-t-time T time] , passage=The ability to shift profits to low-tax countries by locating intellectual property in them, which is then licensed to related businesses in high-tax countries, is often assumed to be the preserve of high-tech companies.}}
  • (archaic) Financial ability.
  • (uncountable) A unique power of the mind; a faculty.
  • * (rfdate) (Francis Bacon) (1561-1626)
  • Natural abilities are like natural plants, that need pruning by study -
  • (countable) A skill or competence in doing; mental power; talent; aptitude.
  • * (rfdate) (King James Bible) , (w) 11:29
  • Then the disciples, every man according to his ability , determined to send relief unto the brethren.
  • * (rfdate) (1800-1859)
  • The public men of England, with much of a peculiar kind of ability
  • * {{quote-news, year=2011, date=November 10, author=Jeremy Wilson, work=Telegraph
  • , title=[http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/football/teams/england/8882713/England-Under-21-5-Iceland-Under-21-0-match-report.html England Under 21 5 Iceland Under 21 0: match report] , passage=The most persistent tormentor was Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, who scored a hat-trick in last month’s corresponding fixture in Iceland. His ability to run at defences is instantly striking, but it is his clever use of possession that has persuaded some shrewd judges that he is an even better prospect than Theo Walcott.}}

    Usage notes

    * (skill or competence) Usually used in the plural. * Ability, capacity : 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 supposes something to be ''done'',George Crabb, 1826, ''[http://books.google.com/books?id=YEgSAAAAIAAJ&pg=PA13&lpg=PA13 English synonymes explained in alphabetical order]'', Collins & Hannay, page 13 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 , and [[w:Edmund Burke, Edmund Burke. "''Capacity''," says H. Taylor, "is requisite to devise, and ''ability to execute, a great enterprise." * The word abilities , in the plural, embraces both these qualities, and denotes high mental endowments.


    * (quality or state of being able) capacity, faculty, capability * (a skill or competence) See * (high level of skill or capability) talent, cleverness, dexterity, aptitude * (suitability or receptiveness to be acted upon) capability, faculty, capacity, aptness, aptitude




    Alternative forms

    * chaunce (obsolete)


    (en noun)
  • (countable) An opportunity or possibility.
  • *
  • , title=(The Celebrity), chapter=2 , passage=Here was my chance . I took the old man aside, and two or three glasses of Old Crow launched him into reminiscence.}}
  • (uncountable) Random occurrence; luck.
  • (countable) The probability of something happening.
  • Derived terms

    (Terms derived from the noun "chance") * Buckley's chance * by chance * chance'd be a fine thing * chance fracture * chance-medley * chancer * chances are * chancy * Chinaman's chance * dog's chance * even chance * fair chance * fat chance * fighting chance * first-chance exception * game of chance * half a chance * happy chance * in with a chance * jump at the chance * last chance * last chance saloon * main chance * mum chance * not a chance * off chance/off-chance * outside chance * perchance * slim chance * smart chance * snowball's chance * snowball's chance in hell * sporting chance * stand a chance


  • (archaic) To happen by chance, to occur.
  • It chanced that I found a solution the very next day.
  • * Bible, Deuteronomy xxii. 6
  • if a bird's nest chance to be before thee
  • * Shakespeare
  • I chanced on this letter.
  • * 1843 , (Thomas Carlyle), '', book 2, ch. XV, ''Practical — Devotional
  • Once it chanced that Geoffrey Riddell (Bishop of Ely), a Prelate rather troublesome to (w), made a request of him for timber from his woods towards certain edifices going on at (Glemsford).
  • * 1847 , , (Jane Eyre), Chapter XVIII
  • Mr. Mason, shivering as some one chanced to open the door, asked for more coal to be put on the fire, which had burnt out its flame, though its mass of cinder still shone hot and red. The footman who brought the coal, in going out, stopped near Mr. Eshton's chair, and said something to him in a low voice, of which I heard only the words, "old woman,"—"quite troublesome."
  • (archaic) To befall; to happen to.
  • * 1826 , William Lambarde, A Perambulation of Kent
  • To try or risk.
  • Shall we carry the umbrella, or chance a rainstorm?
  • * W. D. Howells
  • Come what will, I will chance it.
  • To discover something by chance.
  • He chanced upon a kindly stranger who showed him the way.

    Derived terms

    * (l) * * (l)


    (en adjective)
  • (rare) Happening]] by [[#Noun, chance, casual.
  • * 1859 , (Charles Dickens), (A Tale of Two Cities)'', ch. VI, ''The Shoe Maker (Heron Book Centenial Edition)
  • No crowd was about the door; no people were discernible at any of the many windows; not even a chance passer-by was in the street. An unnatural silence and desertion reigned there.


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