Is there an antonym to the verb form of "able". If my English is correct, you can say the following:

My large backpack is abling me to bring all my books to school.

(I see that a far better word in that circumstance would be "enables", but I'll let it stand.) However, is there a way to say something akin to the following?

Arguably, this effect lessens as the obstacles get larger, as they now fill a larger part of the length of the passing wave, unabling the flow to onset hydro-elastic vibrations.

  • 3
    This question appears to be off-topic because it asks for the antonym of a verb able that effectively doesn't exist in modern English. Aug 27, 2014 at 11:58
  • 2
    Don't stand with able. Use enable.
    – bib
    Aug 27, 2014 at 12:08
  • 2
    Enable for the first usage, disable for the second; able and unable are not used as verbs in modern English.
    – choster
    Aug 27, 2014 at 13:56

2 Answers 2


To "disable" is to render completely inoperative, so that's not what you're looking for.

As general antonyms to "enable", you might like "hinder", "hamper" or synonyms for those you can find in a thesaurus.

But for your specific context of "anti-abling" a flow or fluid, by far the most common word is "obstructing" (which can be either partial, as rocks in a stream, or total, as a dam on a river).

From ODO:

obstruct: block (an opening, path, road, etc.); be or get in the way of

And M-W

obstruct: to hinder from passage, action, or operation : impede, inhibit

On the other hand, if a flow isn't impeded by objects within it, but rather by its own container (think a pipe with a bottleneck in it), the idiomatic word is "constricted".


constrict: to slow or stop the natural course or development of


constrict (v): to make smaller or narrower by binding or squeezing.; To restrict the scope or freedom of; cramp

constrict (n): A constricted or narrow part.

  • Yes, obstructing would be a good word in most fluid related scenarios. In this case, though, it's more the length scales involved that are specific. For now, I'll go with "inhibiting". I see that my sentence as it stands now doesn't reflect this fully. The width of the pipe doesn't obstruct the flow, as there's ample room around it, but it's too long in relation to a passing pressure front.
    – Tarjei
    Aug 27, 2014 at 11:54
  • @Tarjei In that case (too skinny for its length), the idiomatic word would be "constrict".
    – Dan Bron
    Aug 27, 2014 at 11:58
  • Constrict seems to hit the spot, I'll go with that. Accepted answer.
    – Tarjei
    Aug 27, 2014 at 12:04

The word is enabling (not * abling ) and the antonym would be not enabling / hindering.

However, in the given context, use impede:

… as they now fill a larger part of the length of the passing wave, impeding the flow to onset hydro-elastic vibrations.

  • Impede was in my answer, Kris (and furthermore on OP's comment on my answer).
    – Dan Bron
    Aug 27, 2014 at 12:24
  • @DanBron And that is the word, not * unabling. In your answer, impede appears incidentally as one of the meanings of the word obstruct, not as a suggested answer by you, right?
    – Kris
    Aug 27, 2014 at 12:26
  • If you're referring to the "unabling" in my answer, did you notice the scare quotes? That's how your "bogosity asterisk" is spelled in normal prose. If you believe "the word" ("the word", really?) is impede, then you should, by rights, upvote my answer for providing it. That said, it turns out "the word" OP was looking for --- and chose explicitly over impede --- was "constrict".
    – Dan Bron
    Aug 27, 2014 at 12:30

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