im·​passe | \ ˈim-ˌpas How to pronounce impasse (audio) , im-ˈpas\

Definition of impasse

1a : a predicament affording no obvious escape
b : deadlock
2 : an impassable road or way : cul-de-sac

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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.
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Recent Examples on the Web

The impasse might eventually dissipate, especially if a trickle of brain data coincides with at least a trickle of behavioral data. Cathleen O'grady, Ars Technica, "The evolutionary mystery of gigantic human brains," 23 Aug. 2018 The apparent impasse raised an unwelcome prospect for both parties after waiting almost seven years for the three-week trial. Nathan Fenno,, "Jury in Todd McNair-NCAA trial informs judge that it is deadlocked," 15 May 2018 Large swaths of the government have been shut down for weeks while Trump and Democrats in Congress remain at an impasse over money for the border wall. Darlene Superville, The Seattle Times, "Trump’s weekend: New Russia questions, shutdown irritants," 14 Jan. 2019 The shutdown started early Saturday after Mr. Trump and congressional lawmakers hit an impasse over whether to allocate money to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Katie Honan, WSJ, "Thousands Visit Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island Despite Shutdown," 26 Dec. 2018 Political Brinkmanship Di Maio’s remarks did nothing to break the impasse, sparking instead a clash with Salvini’s center-right bloc, in which Berlusconi is a junior partner., "Five Star Wants a Coalition Deal With Anyone But Berlusconi," 4 Apr. 2018 Talks between the two countries in Beijing over the weekend, which were led by Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, ended in an impasse. Keith Bradsher, New York Times, "Within Trump’s Trade Factions, Nations Look for a Friendly Face," 2 June 2018 Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has kept quiet about the impasse over US federal funding. Amanda Sakuma, Vox, "Trump threatens to shut down the border for the third time in three months," 29 Dec. 2018 Some of Trump's advisors believe he and Kim can untangle the impasse on the Korean peninsula, and open the way for more talks. Noah Bierman,, "Scrambling behind the scenes and lowering expectations: Preparing for Trump to meet Kim," 6 Apr. 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.

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First Known Use of impasse

1851, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for impasse

French, from in- + passer to pass

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Statistics for impasse

Last Updated

9 May 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for impasse

The first known use of impasse was in 1851

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More Definitions for impasse



English Language Learners Definition of impasse

: a situation in which no progress seems possible


im·​passe | \ ˈim-ˌpas, im-ˈpas How to pronounce impasse (audio) \

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

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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).


something valued as if it were money

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