Definition of impossibility in US English:



  • 1The state or fact of being impossible.

    ‘the impossibility of walking anywhere in this jungle’
    • ‘The key concern in Jones's work is the aching desire to know the self and the ultimate impossibility of self-knowledge.’
    • ‘How do you explain the apparent impossibility of your words?’
    • ‘It was at this moment of insanity that the sheer impossibility of the situation came to him.’
    • ‘This room should destroy the magic of the work, yet it juxtaposes the basis and the result, and heightens the sense of impossibility.’
    • ‘It seems likely that this was no mere oversight on his part, but in fact a logical impossibility.’
    • ‘Another personnel problem is the near impossibility of firing poor performers.’
    • ‘It stunned me, that night, just the sheer impossibility of it all.’
    • ‘My objections regarding the mathematical impossibility of such an outcome were always readily ignored.’
    • ‘The Museum of Unworkable Devices explores the interface between hope and physical impossibility.’
    • ‘The sheer impossibility of summarising Oracle Night is in fact a mark of the book's strength.’
    • ‘The obvious impossibility of this task only adds to its fascination.’
    • ‘In fact, the impossibility of answering the question is his very reason for asking it.’
    • ‘The impossibility of reform became apparent only two years after his election.’
    • ‘The impossibility of bringing this tale to the big screen would daunt any sane filmmaker.’
    • ‘The first is that the interpreter has placed the idea of objective truth into the realm of impossibility.’
    • ‘He knew from his own experience the near impossibility of forging a new life after prison.’
    • ‘The other thing that sticks in my mind is the vague sense of the overwhelming impossibility of the task.’
    • ‘One of my themes is the possibility or impossibility of connection with others.’
    • ‘The great apparent problem with this new ideology is its impossibility.’
    • ‘Could this be the answer to the continuing search for the home of one's dreams, and the sheer impossibility of being able to afford to buy a property in this city?’
    1. 1.1 An impossible thing or situation.
      ‘they believe that a world at peace is an impossibility’
      • ‘But in my daydreaming fifteen-year-old soul, the impossibilities inherent in such a feeling only served to intensify my hero-worship of William.’
      • ‘Most genuine impossibilities can be made possible by enlarging the frame of reference, by relaxing the conditions tacitly taken as fixed in the original statement of impossibility.’
      • ‘After eliminating the impossibilities, the master of deduction explained, he had been left with one simple irrevocable conclusion, as plain as the nose on one's face.’
      • ‘Othello is a mass of temporal impossibilities.’
      • ‘Find the light side of your crazy day, learn to laugh about impossibilities with good friends.’
      • ‘How much are we able to let go of our reality while we sleep, dreaming of impossibilities, flying without wings, achieving the unachievable?’
      • ‘Let's get all the possibilities and impossibilities on the table now.’
      • ‘But difficulties are not impossibilities, and the participants in this symposium discussed some of the approaches that are beginning to reduce our ignorance.’
      • ‘Softness and subtlety mark the essence of Lost in Translation, a film that takes as its premise the impossibilities of human communication and then tells a story that transcends them.’
      • ‘I've always been an advocate that the simplest left-brain logic is often key to resolving design impossibilities with no viable counters or mending.’
      • ‘Previously conceived impossibilities danced in all their minds as they forged forward.’
      • ‘However, there are still passages in which Descartes says that God can bring about impossibilities (and not just that we ought not say that He cannot).’
      • ‘Today I shall…… try to intensify my dislike for anything false, to the point that lying and deceit become physical impossibilities for me.’
      • ‘You'll start to get hung up on little dumb things like the physical impossibilities that riddle most of the activities the characters do.’
      • ‘It would make it easier to tell him he talked of impossibilities.’
      • ‘The result is a borderline-incoherent story that is so riddled with holes and impossibilities that it defies understanding.’
      • ‘These murders culminate in his suicide, which is, like the murders themselves, shrouded in empirical impossibilities and supernatural improbabilities.’
      • ‘Beware of a selfish person who seeks impossibilities.’
      • ‘I could believe in impossibilities, but you made them realities.’
      • ‘But even though his initial search for glory has destroyed his life, he pursues the monster with the same ardor and passion with which he created him, determined to succeed despite the physical impossibilities.’


Late Middle English: from French impossibilite or Latin impossibilitas, from impossibilis, from in- ‘not’ + possibilis (see possible).