1. a heavy, strong rope.
  2. a very strong rope made of strands of metal wire, as used to support cable cars or suspension bridges.
  3. a cord of metal wire used to operate or pull a mechanism.
  4. Nautical.
    1. a thick hawser made of rope, strands of metal wire, or chain.
    2. cable’s length.
  5. Electricity. an insulated electrical conductor, often in strands, or a combination of electrical conductors insulated from one another.
  6. cablegram.
  7. cable television.
  8. cable-stitch.
  9. Architecture. one of a number of reedings set into the flutes of a column or pilaster.

verb (used with object), ca·bled, ca·bling.

  1. to send (a message) by cable.
  2. to send a cablegram to.
  3. to fasten with a cable.
  4. to furnish with a cable.
  5. to join (cities, parts of a country, etc.) by means of a cable television network: The state will be completely cabled in a few years.

verb (used without object), ca·bled, ca·bling.

  1. to send a message by cable.
  2. to cable-stitch.


  1. George Washington,1844–1925, U.S. novelist and short-story writer.


  1. a strong thick rope, usually of twisted hemp or steel wire
  2. nautical an anchor chain or rope
    1. a unit of distance in navigation, equal to one tenth of a sea mile (about 600 feet)
    2. Also called: cable length, cable’s lengtha unit of length in nautical use that has various values, including 100 fathoms (600 feet)
  3. a wire or bundle of wires that conducts electricitya submarine cable See also coaxial cable
  4. Also called: overseas telegram, international telegram, cablegram a telegram sent abroad by submarine cable, radio, communications satellite, or by telephone line
  5. See cable stitch
  6. short for cable television


  1. to send (a message) to (someone) by cable
  2. (tr) to fasten or provide with a cable or cables
  3. (tr) to supply (a place) with or link (a place) to cable television

c.1200, from Old North French cable, from Medieval Latin capulum “lasso, rope, halter for cattle,” from Latin capere “to take, seize” (see capable). Technically, in nautical use, a rope 10 or more inches around; in non-nautical use, a rope of wire (not hemp or fiber). Given a new range of senses in 19c.: Meaning “message received by telegraphic cable” is from 1883 (short for cable message). Cable car is from 1879. Cable television first attested 1963; shortened form cable is from 1972.


c.1500, “to tie up with cables;” 1871, American English, “to transmit by cable;” from cable (n.). Related: Cabled; cabling.

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