un·​think·​able | \ ˌən-ˈthiŋ-kə-bəl How to pronounce unthinkable (audio) \

Definition of unthinkable

1 : not capable of being grasped by the mind
2 : being contrary to what is reasonable, desirable, or probable : being out of the question

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Other Words from unthinkable

unthinkability \ ˌən-​ˌthiŋ-​kə-​ˈbi-​lə-​tē How to pronounce unthinkable (audio) \ noun
unthinkably \ ˌən-​ˈthiŋ-​kə-​blē How to pronounce unthinkable (audio) \ adverb

Examples of unthinkable in a Sentence

to most people it seemed unthinkable that such a gentle man could be guilty of such awful crimes
Recent Examples on the Web But in January, the unthinkable happened: 39-year-old Jonas Neubauer, the game’s greatest champion and most visible ambassador, died unexpectedly from a sudden medical emergency at his home in Hawaii. Washington Post, "Competitive ‘Tetris’ was soaring, then it lost a legend. What comes next is a puzzle.," 3 May 2021 Lucy Herrera just finished giving her dogs a bath when the unthinkable happened. Samantha Molina, The Arizona Republic, "‘Dog-flipping’ on the rise as more Americans seek companionship during pandemic," 9 Apr. 2021 The crisis, after all, requires us to think the unthinkable. Megan Garber, The Atlantic, "The Dark Side of the Houseplant Boom," 20 Apr. 2021 Now that Barcelona must count every penny, some inside its offices are asking the unthinkable: is their genius still worth it? Joshua Robinson, WSJ, "A Frustrated Genius, a Fading Power, and the Battle for Barcelona’s Leadership," 6 Mar. 2021 By the time House Democrats gathered in Springfield, the once unthinkable became a reality. Ray Long, chicagotribune.com, "Madigan no longer ‘Mr. Speaker,’ but he’s still ‘Public Official A’," 22 Jan. 2021 Citizens have a right to expect that their leaders will prepare for the unthinkable and devise systems that are nimble enough to respond. Editorial Board Star Tribune, Star Tribune, "Minnesota makes belated strides on civil unrest planning," 21 Oct. 2020 But the pattern of the Trump era, from the beginning, has been that each development greeted as unthinkable and indelible is inevitably forgotten a week or two later, when another astounding development presents itself. Eric Lach, The New Yorker, "How Political Violence Became a Presidential-Campaign Issue," 1 Sep. 2020 In Goleman’s universe, both are equally unthinkable. Merve Emre, The New Yorker, "The Repressive Politics of Emotional Intelligence," 12 Apr. 2021

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

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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The first known use of unthinkable was in the 15th century

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Last Updated

8 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Unthinkable.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/unthinkable. Accessed 14 May. 2021.

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More Definitions for unthinkable



English Language Learners Definition of unthinkable

: impossible to imagine or believe : too bad or shocking to be thought of


un·​think·​able | \ ˌən-ˈthiŋ-kə-bəl How to pronounce unthinkable (audio) \

Kids Definition of unthinkable

: not to be thought of or considered as possible or reasonable “Impossible!” cried Mr. Wonka. “Unthinkable! … He could never be made into marshmallows!”— Roald Dahl, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

More from Merriam-Webster on unthinkable

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for unthinkable

Nglish: Translation of unthinkable for Spanish Speakers

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