Definition of cable in US English:



  • 1A thick rope of wire or nonmetallic fiber, typically used for construction, mooring ships, and towing vehicles.

    • ‘From stem to stern, your ship will be held together by a thick cable woven from the most tenacious strands of grass we can find.’
    • ‘Inside a complex network of curved metal plates surrounded what could have been an axle wrapped around with thick cables.’
    • ‘Here and there men in oil stained uniforms wrestle with steel cables, heaving pipes into place.’
    • ‘The restoration work is complicated by steel cables installed in the 1970s.’
    • ‘The amazingly thin, 19 mm stainless steel support cables currently hang loose like pieces of string, but they will soon be tightened to carry the weight of the bridge deck.’
    • ‘Of late, it'd been held together by glue and steel cables and the determination of the people of New Hampshire.’
    • ‘Their work uses industrial materials such as steel plates, cables, magnets and oil, which are then brought to life by generating sound, light and movement.’
    • ‘Consider cable or wire rope instead of chain, as it is harder to cut and requires special tools.’
    • ‘Winch cables attached to the ropes will be pulled into position using pulling blocks.’
    • ‘You would need steel cables to tie anything down on Taransay.’
    • ‘If you do, be sure you will be swarmed by alien looking thick dark cables, strange wires, strange boxes of all sizes and shapes, and a whole range of sharp needles.’
    • ‘And they are tampering with the mooring ropes and cables of many of the craft to gain access to their decks.’
    • ‘One was an explosive conical float, which severed the sweep wire before it reached the mine's mooring cable; another used static cutters to perform the same task.’
    • ‘For a start, changing the roof fabric meant redesigning almost every detail of the building from scratch, and by the time of the decision the contract for the steel and cables had already been awarded.’
    • ‘For the moment hordes of visitors tread warily around it, even though it's fenced off and held rigidly in place by massive steel cables attached to an unattractive girdle.’
    • ‘Each unit of its negotiated geometry is based on two opposed stainless-steel cylinders drawn diagonally erect by two thick and equally opposed cables.’
    • ‘Other materials commonly sold by the linear or running foot include wire, rope, cable, pipe and a variety of other items.’
    • ‘Ore was brought down, and both the men and the easily loaded freight traveled up in buckets suspended from their wire rope cables.’
    • ‘It will be an elegant, single-span construction supported by distinctive cables from a single tower.’
    • ‘I apologised and tried to see if the mirror would go back on as it was dangling from the body of the car by 3 thick metal cables but it wouldn't because the tape had lost its stickiness.’
    rope, cord, line, guy, piece of cordage
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    1. 1.1 The chain of a ship's anchor.
      • ‘She was missed, of course, and at first the Coastguardmen surmised that she had either dragged her anchor or parted her cable some time during the night, and had been blown out to sea.’
      • ‘Preparations were directed towards breaking the cable instead of attempting to weigh anchor which was considered a more risky evolution in the conditions.’
      • ‘The bowsprit was a long, graceful lance, reaching out above his head, but the anchor cable plunged into the water beside him, and he laid a hand on the thick hawser.’
      • ‘Their task was to cut the cables anchoring a boom and antishipping net stretched across the river directly under the machine guns and cannons in a fort overlooking the river.’
      • ‘But the boat's anchor cable broke in the storm and the boat began drifting in high seas.’
      • ‘She still reached her convoy rendezvous in Loch Ewe on time, but while waiting for sailing orders lost her starboard anchor when the cable snapped.’
      • ‘It was a good team effort with one man only missing out by metres before the second diver found the cable and eventually the anchor.’
    2. 1.2Nautical A length of 200 yards (182.9 m) or (in the US) 240 yards (219.4 m).
      • ‘On both sides of these rocks there is a very good wide channel for ships to come in; that on the south side is three cables long and seven fathoms deep, and that on the north side two cables long.’
      • ‘‘Peningo’ was put under tow attached to a line two cables long.’
      • ‘Each of the three pieces was clearly three cables long.’
    3. 1.3
      short for cable stitch
    4. 1.4Architecture A molding resembling twisted rope.
      • ‘Stones were salvaged from a fireplace found on the land, materials matching originals were used, the cable molding that decorated the ceilings was restored and the formal gardens were reborn.’
      • ‘At the base of the cable molding on the entrance portal, luster tiles were used in one of the very rare instances of this technique in fifteenth-century architecture.’
      • ‘The cable molding is only a little more expensive than regular floor molding and it provides what seems like a very useful purpose.’
      • ‘The handsome edifice has such Federal style adornments as stone lintels over the windows and a cornice with mutules and cable molding.’
  • 2An insulated wire or wires having a protective casing and used for transmitting electricity or telecommunication signals.

    ‘an underground cable’
    ‘transatlantic phone calls went by cable’
    • ‘Power bosses have agreed to replace underground electricity cables to help improve poor supply following a spate of power cuts in Westhoughton.’
    • ‘More than 25,000 metres of telecommunications and signalling cables were also installed.’
    • ‘In a spray of sparks he yanked the cable out, the transmitter signal died.’
    • ‘This was also the initiation of underground electricity cables in Sligo town.’
    • ‘A device is disclosed for stripping the insulation or dielectric housing from a cable or wire.’
    • ‘During the accident the van left the road and hit a pole carrying electricity and telephone cables, causing wires to drape in the road.’
    • ‘It appears that separate cables convey electrical signals to and from the antenna.’
    • ‘They are arranged in bundles called optical cables and used to transmit light signals over long distances.’
    • ‘This involves the fitting of switches and sockets and connecting the cables to the electricity supply.’
    • ‘We still await a decision on the sensitive issue of the on-site over-head high voltage electricity cables.’
    • ‘Except for the thick camera cables on the floor and the lighting gantries where the roof should be.’
    • ‘The report found that electricity companies said underground cables failed less but took far longer to find and repair than overhead faults.’
    • ‘The pricier cable was better insulated, resulting in less signal loss.’
    • ‘There are two different, fundamental ways that an audio cable can change the signal.’
    • ‘The Radio Frequency signal will suffer a loss of amplitude as the signal travels along the cable.’
    • ‘The plaintiffs manufactured stainless steel alloys at a factory which was directly supplied with electricity by a cable from a power station.’
    • ‘They argued that the occupation posed safety risks to the squatters as the property was fenced in by a power line and electric cables and there was an petroleum pipe underground.’
    • ‘This is one of the three wires in an electrical cable that protects a circuit from overloading.’
    • ‘Installation of underground electricity cables is 97 percent complete but a change of plans is causing a delay to the final completion of the project.’
    • ‘On September 25 signals from the seamount ceased when a transmission cable that carried the signals to land was cut by a deep-sea trawler.’
    wire, lead, cord
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    1. 2.1 A cablegram.
      • ‘And after three or four days I sent a cable to Athens that I wouldn't be able to speak at the University of Athens.’
      • ‘No one with any sense ever supposed that telephone calls or telegrams or cables were private.’
      • ‘He sent a cable to this effect to Washington, which he still retains.’
      • ‘Before leaving he sent a cable to Hawthorne.’
    2. 2.2
      • ‘At the moment, the company broadcasts direct to 5.7m households in the UK and Ireland, with another 5.5m households watching via cable.’
      • ‘It was afternoon there and she'd just finished watching a movie on cable.’
      • ‘The DVD looks pretty much like what you'd see watching the show on cable; with a soft image and some grain.’
      • ‘It was almost eleven thirty, but they'd been watching a movie on cable which had only just finished.’
      • ‘If we want to see old movies with a logo superimposed on them, we'll watch them on basic cable.’
      • ‘The guys over there are clearly from my age group, mining films we watched and loved before cable really took off.’
      • ‘Still, many people can watch us via cable and people are really into the game.’
      • ‘We have to look as good and be as competitive as what people are used to watching on cable and satellite.’
      • ‘And even though we have cable, we watch all the Spanish language channels to entertain us and inform us about what's going on in the world.’
      • ‘One of my evil pleasures is watching old movies on cable.’
      • ‘The TV is on at my sister's house and she has no cable so we watch network stuff.’
      • ‘I've got an idea - let's cancel our cable, stop watching TV and go outside.’
      • ‘They were in the dining room watching some movie on cable.’
      • ‘While some of the other season's soundtracks are like that, the Fourth Season sounds more like music to cook spaghetti to when friends are over to watch your cable.’
      • ‘Now you can watch cable without the cables, and wirelessly surf the Web at the same time - anywhere in your house.’
      • ‘And the numbers for liberals watching cable are quite low - it's less than 20 percent.’
      • ‘Speaking of TV, when are you coming here to watch cable?’
      • ‘We jumped onto the couch, flicking through the cable to watch cartoons.’
      • ‘I might have to pack up for the big commute to the TV downstairs so I can watch it on cable.’
      • ‘If you're just interested in watching a council meeting it's better to watch it on cable.’


[with object]
  • 1Contact or send a message to (someone) by cablegram.

    • ‘There wasn't time to write so Matt had cabled Sarah that he was coming home.’
    • ‘How could Uncle Roger meet him if he cabled us from New York?’
    • ‘At eight o'clock on Monday evening Nicholas was cabled a warning that only a handful of his troops remained loyal.’
    • ‘The next day, the operations official cabled an overseas officer seeking concurrence with the idea of sending Wilson, the report said.’
    • ‘It was for this reason that Churchill and Roosevelt, while they were together at the Placentia Bay conference, cabled Stalin to suggest the Three-Power conference.’
    • ‘He refused and cabled him that a big butcher's bill was not necessarily evidence of good tactics.’
    • ‘But before the war was quite over Shell cabled me, ‘Can you possibly get released?’’
    • ‘It had been two weeks and Cameron had been able to cable his family when he'd made port to tell them that he was fine.’
    • ‘I told Cam I would cable him from the ship to let him know when it arrived.’
    • ‘The UK government cabled NZ asking for increased production of wool and all food stuffs for which they were prepared to pay ‘good prices’.’
    • ‘Patrick had slipped next door and got their groom to cable him with an urgent message to pick Master Adam up at the station as he was returning earlier than planned.’
    • ‘When her father cabled her with a whole dollar to support this adventure, she returned to America to study psychology at Berkeley.’
    • ‘In May of that year, he cabled the UN secretary-general to plead for a postponement of the vote until the political freedoms and human rights situation improved - he was told no.’
    1. 1.1 Transmit (a message) by cablegram.
      • ‘On October 22nd, the commissar for the western front cabled a message to him that said: ‘There is nothing left but to give up.’’
      • ‘However, he cabled a message to the Vice-Admiral inquiring his views of the possibility of rushing the Dardanelles.’
      • ‘When she arrived in Wales 10 days later she cabled a message to her husband, ‘Saved Alone’.’
      • ‘I wish to cable an urgent telegram to the President.’
      • ‘The day he figured out the recipe, more than a year later, he cabled the news to his father, who had the dish recreated for Brady.’
      send, transmit
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    2. 1.2no object Send a cablegram.
      ‘we cabled to a boat at sea, asking it to stop’
      • ‘We cabled to the last address we had, but there was no answer.’
      • ‘Some of the chaps cabled for money on the 11th of this month & haven't heard anything about it yet.’
      • ‘He was at MIT at the time, and we cabled to ask him if he wanted to be in on the collaboration.’
      • ‘He cabled to him that he was ‘very sorry to learn that I appear to have got the Government in trouble’.’
      • ‘His Australian government had cabled to back Britain on August 3.’
      send, transmit
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  • 2Provide (an area or community) with power lines or with the equipment necessary for cable television.

    • ‘If it's a new build it's unlikely the area will be cabled, they've stopped cabling new areas for the time being.’
    • ‘Here in Washington (near Sunderland) most of the town was cabled when it was being built in the 70-80's.’
    • ‘As an added benefit, he explained, the university is using wireless broadband technology to provide Internet access to areas that are not cabled for Ethernet.’
    • ‘The service is only available in cabled areas in Kilkenny, Clonmel, and Thurles.’
  • 3Architecture
    Decorate (a structure) with rope-shaped moldings.


Middle English: from an Anglo-Norman French variant of Old French chable, from late Latin capulum ‘halter’.