in·​su·​per·​a·​ble (ˌ)in-ˈsü-p(ə-)rə-bəl How to pronounce insuperable (audio)
: incapable of being surmounted, overcome, passed over, or solved
insuperable difficulties
insuperably adverb

Did you know?

Insuperable first appeared in print in the 14th century, and as a close synonym to insurmountable, it still means now approximately what it did then. In Latin, superare means "to go over, surmount, overcome, or excel." (The sur- in surmount is related to the Latin prefix super-.) The Latin word insuperabilis, from which insuperable is derived, was formed by combining the negative prefix in- with superare plus abilis ("able"). Hence, insuperabilis means "unable to be surmounted, overcome, or passed over," or more simply, "insurmountable." The word can describe physical barriers that cannot be scaled (such as walls or mountains) as well as more figurative challenges, obstacles, or difficulties.

Examples of insuperable in a Sentence

the building project ran into insuperable financial difficulties and had to be scrapped insuperable problems have arisen which make it very unlikely that we will ever finish this project
Recent Examples on the Web That the songs don’t match the story structurally is probably an insuperable problem. Jesse Green, New York Times, 27 July 2023 Frye seeks to show how the Kremlin’s actions are the result of countless tradeoffs and difficult choices, rather than the expression of an omnipotent ruler’s whims or an insuperable historical legacy. Timothy Frye, Foreign Affairs, 20 Apr. 2021 So when Mayor de Blasio’s administration, which had not raised insuperable objections during nearly five years of community consultation, suddenly swapped the plan for what officials decided was a more technically sound one, the switch did more than infuriate residents. New York Times, 2 Dec. 2021 Two women who are attached to their cultural roots yet alienated by the conservative values of their communities hold for each other the answer to problems that until now have seemed insuperable. Charles McNulty, Los Angeles Times, 19 Mar. 2023 In Céspedes’s book, the family is insuperable. Roxana Robinson, Washington Post, 2 Feb. 2023 But replacing heroes with anti-heroes does little to alter the narrative about how a handful of geniuses have changed the world through their insuperable intelligence; the genre continues to trade on a deep desire to make myths about the men behind the machines. Moira Weigel, The New Republic, 20 Dec. 2021 For an artist who had never left his apartment or studio without a pencil and sketchbook in his pocket in which to record ideas and motifs for future compositions, Manet’s physical impairment severely curtailed this method of working and might have presented insuperable challenges. Colin B. Bailey, The New York Review of Books, 17 Nov. 2020 Lemoine is a supervillain in the least subtle sense, with near-infinite money, insuperable technology and maniacal plans for a grandiose world takeover. Hillary Kelly, Los Angeles Times, 3 Mar. 2023 See More

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

Word History


Middle English, from Latin insuperabilis, from in- + superare to surmount, from super over — more at over

First Known Use

14th century, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of insuperable was in the 14th century


Dictionary Entries Near insuperable

Cite this Entry

“Insuperable.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 22 Sep. 2023.

Kids Definition


in·​su·​per·​a·​ble (ˈ)in-ˈsü-p(ə-)rə-bəl How to pronounce insuperable (audio)
: impossible to overcome
insuperable difficulties
insuperably adverb

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