im·​pass·​able | \ (ˌ)im-ˈpa-sə-bəl How to pronounce impassable (audio) \
variants: or less commonly

Definition of impassable

: incapable of being passed, traveled, crossed, or surmounted

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Other Words from impassable

impassability \ (ˌ)im-​ˌpa-​sə-​ˈbi-​lə-​tē How to pronounce impassability (audio) \ noun
impassableness \ (ˌ)im-​ˈpa-​sə-​bəl-​nəs How to pronounce impassableness (audio) \ noun
impassably \ (ˌ)im-​ˈpa-​sə-​blē How to pronounce impassably (audio) \ adverb

Examples of impassable in a Sentence

The roads were made impassable by the flood. the road was impassable until snowplows cleared it

Recent Examples on the Web

The Arctic has become a markedly more contentious military and commercial environment as the changing climate has led to greater ice melt in the summer, opening more navigable waterways and leading to greater sea traffic in once-impassable lanes. Ben Kesling, WSJ, "Cold War Games: U.S. Is Preparing to Test the Waters in Icy Arctic," 11 Jan. 2019 But if those fail and the highway becomes impassable, residents in numerous neighborhoods will be stranded. Denise Laitinen, USA TODAY, "Hawaii volcano leaves escape routes in doubt," 25 May 2018 Emergency crews continued Thursday to rescue residents, at times by helicopter, from some of Montecito’s still-impassable neighborhoods. Washington Post, "‘Evacuation fatigue’ caused some to ignore peril of mudslides," 7 Mar. 2018 Storm drains will probably back up, and large puddles will make some roadways impassable. Greg Porter, Washington Post, "PM Update: Heavy rain with localized flooding persists through the evening. Gorgeous weather on Monday.," 3 June 2018 Residents of Houston, Texas, have been asked not to leave their homes, as flooding caused by hurricane Harvey has made roads impassable. David Taylor, Houston Chronicle, "High-water rescue vehicles delivered to Liberty County in time for hurricane season," 17 May 2018 Without the locks, a section of rapids would make the water impassable for commercial ships. New York Times, "In the Great Lakes, They’re Battling Ice, and Time. Take a Look.," 18 Jan. 2018 Heavy rain flooded homes in western and central New York on Friday and large chunks of ice and water made roads impassable. CBS News, "Arctic air mass will send temperatures plunging in parts of U.S.," 13 Jan. 2018 The roads around the plants are largely impassable. Lucia I. Suarez Sang, Fox News, "Florence dropped an estimated 8 trillion gallons of rain over North Carolina," 18 Sep. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'impassable.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of impassable

1562, in the meaning defined above

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Last Updated

13 Mar 2019

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Time Traveler for impassable

The first known use of impassable was in 1562

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More Definitions for impassable



English Language Learners Definition of impassable

: impossible to pass, cross, or travel over


im·​pass·​able | \ im-ˈpa-sə-bəl\

Kids Definition of impassable

: impossible to pass, cross, or travel … the forest road … led to impassable marshes where the paths had long been lost.— J. R. R. Tolkien, The Hobbit

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More from Merriam-Webster on impassable

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with impassable

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for impassable

Spanish Central: Translation of impassable

Nglish: Translation of impassable for Spanish Speakers

Comments on impassable

What made you want to look up impassable? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


a shady place in a garden or forest

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