im·​pas·​sive (ˌ)im-ˈpa-siv How to pronounce impassive (audio)
: giving no sign of feeling or emotion : expressionless
: unsusceptible to or destitute of emotion : apathetic
: unsusceptible to physical feeling : insensible
archaic : unsusceptible to pain
impassively adverb
impassiveness noun
impassivity noun
Choose the Right Synonym for impassive

impassive, stoic, phlegmatic, apathetic, stolid mean unresponsive to something that might normally excite interest or emotion.

impassive stresses the absence of any external sign of emotion in action or facial expression.

met the news with an impassive look

stoic implies an apparent indifference to pleasure or especially to pain often as a matter of principle or self-discipline.

was resolutely stoic even in adversity

phlegmatic implies a temperament or constitution hard to arouse.

a phlegmatic man unmoved by tears

apathetic may imply a puzzling or deplorable indifference or inertness.

charitable appeals met an apathetic response

stolid implies a habitual absence of interest, responsiveness, or curiosity.

stolid workers wedded to routine

Examples of impassive in a Sentence

Her face remained impassive throughout the trial. she remained impassive as the officers informed her of her son's death
Recent Examples on the Web Gladstone’s Cam conceals a lifetime’s worth of anger—about her own upbringing, about her perennial outsider status—beneath an impassive exterior. Judy Berman, TIME, 16 Apr. 2024 The former laborer, who sometimes broke into tears during his testimony, spoke in front of a large screen broadcasting Lucas García’s impassive figure. Tara John, CNN, 13 Apr. 2024 Other voices were now on the line, impassive, distorted by static—a dispatcher, coördinating with police and E.M.T.s. Zach Williams, The New Yorker, 18 Mar. 2024 But the character is, by design, relatively impassive, stoic, and shy of expression, albeit bursting with thought and emotion. Richard Brody, The New Yorker, 11 Mar. 2024 Farrell is impassive as the travesties mount, behaving like a robot that relies on algorithms to process and feign emotion. Allaire Nuss,, 8 Mar. 2024 What remains is Menzies’s Lucas, a man in the eye of a maelstrom, initially mired in impassive incomprehension until a particularly brutal act shocks him into fury. Elisabeth Vincentelli, New York Times, 25 Feb. 2024 Marseille also went out on penalties, falling to 2019 tournament winner Rennes 9-8 in a tense shootout where both goalkeepers goaded the penalty takers in front of an impassive referee. Jerome Pugmire, USA TODAY, 21 Jan. 2024 This becomes more evident in later chapters, in which impassive reconstruction slips into impassioned defense. Krithika Varagur, The New Yorker, 12 Jan. 2024

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

Word History

First Known Use

1605, in the meaning defined at sense 2c

Time Traveler
The first known use of impassive was in 1605

Dictionary Entries Near impassive

Cite this Entry

“Impassive.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 19 May. 2024.

Kids Definition


im·​pas·​sive (ˈ)im-ˈpas-iv How to pronounce impassive (audio)
: not feeling or not showing emotion
impassively adverb
impassivity noun

More from Merriam-Webster on impassive

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
Love words? Need even more definitions?

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