im·​passe | \ˈim-ˌpas, im-ˈpas\

Definition of impasse 

1a : a predicament affording no obvious escape

b : deadlock

2 : an impassable road or way : cul-de-sac

Keep scrolling for more

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.
See More

Recent Examples on the Web

Lawmakers retreated to their separate corners around 4:40 a.m. as legislative leaders met behind closed doors to try to resolve the impasse. Washington Post, "Delaware lawmakers wrapping up session with flurry of bills," 1 July 2018 But that support has not helped lawmakers resolve an impasse over immigration and pass legislation to aid Dreamers. Tessa Berenson, Time, "President Trump Calls His Own Family Separation Policy 'So Sad.' Here's Why He Supports It Anyway," 20 June 2018 The stage is set for a summit between the U.S. and North Korea aimed at resolving the nuclear impasse and ending seven decades of official hostility., "Today: The Road to Singapore," 11 June 2018 In accepting the Wisconsin and Maryland cases last year, the court appeared on the verge of breaking the impasse. Jess Bravin, WSJ, "Maryland to Appeal Gerrymandering Ruling, Setting Up New Supreme Court Battle," 15 Nov. 2018 The two met for a nearly three-hour summit in Pyongyang on Sunday to discuss a way to break the impasse in discussions. Alex Ward, Vox, "Why North Korea’s latest nuclear concession isn’t one at all," 8 Oct. 2018 At the time, my job search was at an impasse, my writing projects were in limbo, and another man had just ghosted me. Matt Ortile, SELF, "Whenever My Life Feels Out of Control, I Go to Ballet Class," 16 Aug. 2018 An arrangement was later reached allowing Alvarez to lead the joint session with Sotto to break the impasse, which delayed the president’s speech for more than an hour. Jim Gomez, The Seattle Times, "Row delays Duterte speech, rebel deal; Arroyo named speaker," 23 July 2018 Chancellor Angela Merkel and her rebellious political allies broke an impasse over immigration that threatened to bring down Germany's coalition government by agreeing on a compromise late Monday that both sides said addressed their concerns. The Christian Science Monitor, "German leaders agree on one approach to mitigating migrant crisis," 3 July 2018

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

See More

First Known Use of impasse

1851, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for impasse

French, from in- + passer to pass

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about impasse

Statistics for impasse

Last Updated

5 Dec 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for impasse

The first known use of impasse was in 1851

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for impasse



English Language Learners Definition of impasse

: a situation in which no progress seems possible


im·​passe | \ˈim-ˌpas, im-ˈpas \

Legal Definition of impasse 

: a point in especially labor negotiations at which reaching an agreement is impossible because neither party is willing to compromise or change position

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on impasse

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with impasse

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for impasse

Spanish Central: Translation of impasse

Nglish: Translation of impasse for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of impasse for Arabic Speakers

Comments on impasse

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


to make faulty or ineffective

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Find the Cousins

  • a-large-tree-with-many-branches
  • Which pair shares a common word ancestor?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.


Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.


Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!