im·​passe ˈim-ˌpas How to pronounce impasse (audio)
: a predicament affording no obvious escape
: an impassable road or way : cul-de-sac

Examples of impasse in a Sentence

The players are poised to strike after Thursday's games because they believe, with good reason, that if no agreement is reached by the end of the post-season, the owners will declare an impasse Murray Chass, New York Times, 9 Aug. 1994
We seem to have been forced into an impasse. We need to understand why space-time singularities have the structures that they appear to have; but space-time singularities are regions where our understanding of physics has reached its limits. Roger Penrose, The Emperor's New Mind, 1989
I think the civil rights movement in its early and middle years offered the best way out of America's racial impasse: in this society, race must not be a source of advantage or disadvantage for anyone. Shelby Steele, Harper's, June 1988
An arbitrator was called in to break the impasse. She had reached an impasse in her career.
Recent Examples on the Web In the past, Bakish has had a strong track record in avoiding broadcast and cable network blackouts due to an impasse in carriage fee negotiations. Brad Adgate, Forbes, 15 Feb. 2024 While blatant sabotage explains the current immigration impasse, however, there’s something else lurking behind it: Trump and those around him are profoundly hostile to immigration in general. Paul Krugman, The Mercury News, 8 Feb. 2024 Still, Senate Republicans reached an impasse for hours on Wednesday night, as the chamber was set to vote on the motion to move forward with the foreign aid bill, as some members sought an opportunity to add border security provisions back into the legislation with amendments. Kaia Hubbard, CBS News, 8 Feb. 2024 This steady colonization since Israel captured the West Bank from Jordan in 1967 has led to a disastrous impasse. Roger Cohen, New York Times, 31 Jan. 2024 But an impasse in Congress amid ongoing budget and debt ceiling debates mean the program may not get as much money as the Agriculture Department requests for the first time in nearly 25 years, said Vilsack, an appointee of Democratic President Joe Biden. Alex Derosier, Twin Cities, 1 Feb. 2024 The impasse led both sides to file claims of unfair labor practices with the Public Employment Relations Board. Shomik Mukherjee, The Mercury News, 19 Jan. 2024 Indeed, the 1995 government shutdown had next to nothing to do with a legitimate impasse over how to bridge a budget gap. Noah Rothman, National Review, 4 Jan. 2024 With an impasse in negotiations, the Times on Wednesday became the first major media company to sue over novel copyright issues raised by the tech in a lawsuit that could have far-reaching implications on the news publishing industry. Winston Cho, The Hollywood Reporter, 28 Dec. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'impasse.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


French, from in- + passer to pass

First Known Use

1851, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Time Traveler
The first known use of impasse was in 1851

Dictionary Entries Near impasse

Cite this Entry

“Impasse.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 28 Feb. 2024.

Kids Definition


im·​passe ˈim-ˌpas How to pronounce impasse (audio)
: a situation from which it seems impossible to escape
especially : deadlock

Legal Definition


im·​passe ˈim-ˌpas, im-ˈpas How to pronounce impasse (audio)
: a point in especially labor negotiations at which reaching an agreement is impossible because neither party is willing to compromise or change position

More from Merriam-Webster on impasse

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