liable

If you drive into someone's fence, you’ll probably be held liable — legally responsible — for fixing it. Liable can also mean “likely,” usually with something unpleasant: "If you don't brush your teeth, they're liable to fall out."

When liable refers to legal responsibility, it's used with "for": "You're liable for the court costs" (meaning you have to pay them). When liable means "likely," it's with "to": "If you build your house on that cliff, it's liable to fall into the river," or "That part of town is liable to mudslides." Don't confuse liable with libel, which is a legal term for slander, or saying something false and damaging about someone.

Definitions of liable
  1. adjective
    subject to legal action
    liable to criminal charges”
    Synonyms:
    nonexempt
    (of persons) not exempt from an obligation or liability
  2. adjective
    held legally responsible
    “men between the ages of 18 and 35 were liable for military service”
    Synonyms:
    responsible
    worthy of or requiring responsibility or trust; or held accountable
  3. adjective
    (often followed by 'to') likely to be affected with
    liable to diabetes”
    synonyms: nonimmune, nonresistant, unresistant
    susceptible
    (often followed by `of' or `to') yielding readily to or capable of
  4. adjective
    likely to be or experience something, often something unpleasant
    “she is liable to forget”
    synonyms: apt
    likely
    having a good chance of being the case or of coming about
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