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 unthinkability (audio) \ noun
unthinkably \ ˌən-​ˈthiŋ-​kə-​blē How to pronounce unthinkably (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 Justin Wong/Facebook Harcourt Romanticist Hong Kong has witnessed once unthinkable scenes in recent months. Vivienne Chow, Quartz, "Twelve works of art that chart the emotional upheavals of the Hong Kong protests," 31 Dec. 2019 Dennis Muilenburg was ousted as chief executive of Boeing Co., a once-unthinkable turning point for a US industrial champion now engulfed in turmoil after two deadly crashes of its top-selling 737 Max jetliner. BostonGlobe.com, "Boeing ousts CEO, picks chairman to map exit from Max crisis - The Boston Globe," 24 Dec. 2019 Dennis Muilenburg was ousted as chief executive officer of Boeing Co., a once-unthinkable turning point for a U.S. industrial champion engulfed in turmoil after two deadly crashes of its top-selling 737 Max jetliner. Julie Johnsson, Fortune, "Boeing CEO is Out as 737 MAX Crisis Deepens," 23 Dec. 2019 Presidential impeachment was once almost unthinkable because of the gravity of overturning the results of an election. Carl Hulse, New York Times, "In a Polarized Era, Will Impeachment Become a ‘New Normal’?," 12 Dec. 2019 Spiro Agnew called them — became a bete noire of the political right as more fiscally conservative governments raised public college tuition to levels once unthinkable. Will Bunch, Twin Cities, "Will Bunch: What Pete Buttigieg doesn’t get about how college has ripped America in two," 10 Dec. 2019 Farmers have always talked of looming disaster, but the duration and severity of the current crisis suggests an alarming and once unthinkable possibility — that independent farming is no longer a viable livelihood. Alana Semuels / Fremont, Time, "'They're Trying to Wipe Us Off the Map.' Small American Farmers Are Nearing Extinction," 27 Nov. 2019 Clustered in the South Loop, these buildings reveal how an economic boom and a series of technological innovations allowed office buildings to rise to once-unthinkable heights. Blair Kamin, chicagotribune.com, "Column: Should this long-gone Chicago high-rise still be called the ‘first skyscraper’? Maybe not, says the group that stripped Willis Tower of its tallest-building titles," 7 Nov. 2019 Loans going out six or seven years on vehicles, once unthinkable, have become common. Russ Wiles, azcentral, "How to adjust your borrowing, saving and investing as interest rates continue their decline," 30 July 2019

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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Time Traveler for unthinkable

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

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Last Updated

16 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Unthinkable.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/unthinkable. Accessed 23 January 2020.

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More Definitions for unthinkable


How to pronounce unthinkable (audio)

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

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More from Merriam-Webster on unthinkable

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for unthinkable

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with unthinkable

Spanish Central: Translation of unthinkable

Nglish: Translation of unthinkable for Spanish Speakers

Comments on unthinkable

What made you want to look up unthinkable? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


out of the ordinary or unreasonable

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