in·​ev·​i·​ta·​ble | \ i-ˈne-və-tə-bəl How to pronounce inevitable (audio) \

Definition of inevitable

: incapable of being avoided or evaded an inevitable outcome

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Other Words from inevitable

inevitability \ i-​ˌne-​və-​tə-​ˈbi-​lə-​tē How to pronounce inevitability (audio) \ noun
inevitableness \ i-​ˈne-​və-​tə-​bəl-​nəs How to pronounce inevitableness (audio) \ noun

Absolutely Inevitable (Or Not)

Inevitable can occasionally be found used as a noun (“the inevitable had come to pass”), but more frequently it is encountered as an adjective. Some, in fact, would classify this word not only as an adjective, but as a special kind: the absolute adjective. Absolute adjectives permit little or no variation, and cannot (in the view of some) be used in the comparative or superlative form. For instance, a person may be dead or not, but cannot be the deadest among other dead people. This neat classification seems logical enough, yet it does not apply in all situations. After all, we often speak of things as dead in a non-biological sense; can a ball that is dead (not fully inflated) be deader than another ball? Of course it can. Similar attempts to impose the "absolute" label have been made in the case of inevitable. Some consider it improper to modify the word, arguing that “almost inevitable” is illogical. Yet these two words have been successfully paired together since at least 1576, when Abraham Flemming, in a translation of Cicero, wrote, “in what snares (almost ineuitable) of vnluckinesse we be intangled.”

Examples of inevitable in a Sentence

The captain of archers fidgeted and coughed and rolled his eyes at his men, as if such cupidity and dishonor were an inevitable but minor aspect of the human predicament … — Michael Chabon, New York Times Magazine, 6 May 2007 In a society that has gold-plated everything from hubcaps to teeth, it was perhaps inevitable that someone would find a way to add some bling to bacteria. — Zach Zorich, Discover, February 2006 The Vikings disappeared, but the Inuit survived, proving that human survival in Greenland was not impossible and the Vikings' disappearance not inevitable. — Jared M. Diamond, Collapse, 2005 getting wet is inevitable if you are going to try to give your dog a bath
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Recent Examples on the Web There’s an old bit of advice that the end of a story should be surprising yet inevitable. Washington Post, "She fell into QAnon and went viral for destroying a Target mask display. Now she’s rebuilding her life.," 11 Nov. 2020 As Utah’s coronavirus case counts soar and hospitals warn that rationing care is all but inevitable, health experts say that state officials for weeks have rejected their recommendations for more severe restrictions to prevent further spread. Bethany Rodgers, The Salt Lake Tribune, "Utah health experts say state officials are ignoring their advice for stopping COVID-19 surge," 8 Nov. 2020 Perhaps more than any other vice president in recent memory, she will be carefully scrutinized for her ambitions, a level of attention that is perhaps inevitable for the No. 2 of the oldest incoming No. 1 in history. Lisa Lerer, New York Times, "Kamala Harris Makes History as First Woman and Woman of Color as Vice President," 7 Nov. 2020 Some might argue that this is inevitable in a nation with a system of adversarial, competitive politics. Arthur C. Brooks, The Atlantic, "The Happiness Effects of Elections," 5 Nov. 2020 For the moment, feeling tense is almost inevitable. Marco Della Cava, USA TODAY, "'Not in a good place': Americans grapple with anxiety, fear each other while waiting for election results," 5 Nov. 2020 Both local election officials, researchers, and the Department of Homeland Security's Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency said on Tuesday that such snafus are inevitable in every election and don't indicate anything nefarious. Lily Hay Newman, Wired, "Despite Hacking Fears, Election Day Has a Mostly Smooth Start," 3 Nov. 2020 The offense has taken time to gain its footing in games, but Allen believes that is somewhat inevitable given the nature of this past offseason. Jon Blau, The Indianapolis Star, "Those laterals were wild, and so is this: IU football is atop the Big Ten East.," 1 Nov. 2020 Encountering unfamiliar-sounding names is inevitable in a country as multicultural as the US, and stumbling a few times at first is normal. Harmeet Kaur, CNN, "What it reveals when senators repeatedly mispronounce the names of Kamala Harris and Sundar Pichai," 30 Oct. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'inevitable.' 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 inevitable

14th century, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for inevitable

Middle English, from Latin inevitabilis, from in- + evitabilis evitable

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Time Traveler for inevitable

Time Traveler

The first known use of inevitable was in the 14th century

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Statistics for inevitable

Last Updated

17 Nov 2020

Cite this Entry

“Inevitable.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 25 Nov. 2020.

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More Definitions for inevitable


How to pronounce inevitable (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of inevitable

: sure to happen


in·​ev·​i·​ta·​ble | \ i-ˈne-və-tə-bəl How to pronounce inevitable (audio) \

Kids Definition of inevitable

: sure to happen : certain It was inevitable that the clash for leadership should come.— Jack London, The Call of the Wild

Other Words from inevitable

inevitably \ -​blē \ adverb

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