Ability word

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An ability word is a word that, in essence, groups, and reminds players of, cards that have a common functionality and does not imply any particular rules. In other words, it is a naming convention to group like things together that cannot be keyworded. As a consequence of having no significant rules, ability words do not have separate entries in the Comprehensive Rules.[1]


Debuting in Unhinged, with Gotcha, ability words were introduced among tournament-legal cards in Saviors of Kamigawa with Channel and Sweep. Some cards, such as the Domain cards of Invasion block, and keyword abilities, such as Odyssey block's Threshold during Time Spiral block, have been retroactively erataed to, respectively, feature ability words or become ability words.

The way you can tell something is an ability word is twofold. First, it is always in italics, with a dash at the beginning of the rules text. Second, if removed from the card, the rules text would still read perfectly fine. Keywords, in contrast, are within the rules text and would make the text incomplete if removed.

Comprehensive Rules[edit]

From the Comprehensive Rules (Khans of Tarkir)


Examples of ability words are:

  • Metalcraft — {Additional or alternate effect} if you control three or more artifacts.
  • Sweep — Return any number of {basic land types} you control to their owner's hand. {An effect based on the number of lands returned.}

List of ability words[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. Mark Rosewater. (July 28, 2008.) "Ability Word to Your Mother", Daily MTG,, Wizards of the Coast.