Definition of possible in US English:



  • 1Able to be done; within the power or capacity of someone or something.

    ‘surely it's not possible for a man to live so long?’
    ‘what are the possible alternatives?’
    ‘contact me as soon as possible’
    ‘I'd like the report this afternoon, if possible’
    • ‘Of course, it's always possible for other people to even the balance.’
    • ‘Alternative strategies are possible for every business and help is available from many different sources.’
    • ‘Many people made it possible for us to achieve a great deal of work in a short period of time.’
    • ‘However, it was not possible for the smaller countries of the region to achieve self sufficiency.’
    • ‘So as to protect sources, it is not possible for me to be specific as to what material has been sourced in Australia.’
    • ‘I would wish, if possible, to be able to get to Canberra by lunch time on Monday.’
    • ‘In this great nation it is always possible for a child to go as far as their talent and vision can take them.’
    • ‘But within that it is possible for certain responsibilities to be delegated.’
    • ‘If possible buy from a specialist shop and discuss safety features.’
    • ‘Is it not possible for us to achieve the same mission by establishing consulates in some of the places?’
    • ‘Because it is not practically possible for the party to induct two ministers from a single family.’
    • ‘Then how is it possible for any manager to extend a loan to someone with no property of their own?’
    • ‘We must concentrate on our horse units, and have them all up to speed within a week if possible.’
    • ‘Moreover, it is possible for people not only to be disappointed in this area, but seriously harmed.’
    • ‘They appealed to the lawmakers to pass the bill as soon as possible for the sake of patients' human rights.’
    • ‘Access as soon as possible for NGOs and aid is particularly important.’
    • ‘‘It is possible for a guy not to be fit on Wednesday but be fit for the weekend,’ he said.’
    • ‘She could come home to herself in a way that had not been possible for her in yoga practice.’
    • ‘The practice direction requires all applications to be made as soon as possible and before allocation if possible.’
    • ‘But we have to take this up as soon as possible for reasons I will explain when I hear from you.’
    feasible, able to be done, practicable, viable, within the bounds of possibility, within the realms of possibility, attainable, achievable, realizable, within reach, workable, manageable
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    1. 1.1 Able to happen although not certain to; denoting a fact, event, or situation that may or may not occur or be so.
      ‘a new theory emerged about the possible cause of the plane crash’
      with clause ‘it is possible that he will have to return to the hospital’
      • ‘The possible effects of measles are so awful that I didn't want to leave my children open to that.’
      • ‘Then there's the possible bubble effect if everybody thinking of selling tries to do so before the new law comes into effect.’
      • ‘Everytime I think about it I find out more possible side effects to fuel my resistance.’
      • ‘Since all actual and possible times exist in the general course of time, this general time must be infinite.’
      • ‘The first was a growing misapprehension regarding the possible effects of a world dominated by a single superpower.’
      • ‘Moreover, pure public goods do not exist, with the possible exception of national defence.’
      • ‘At least four possible explanations exist for favourable results seen in industry sponsored research.’
      • ‘However, concerns are now being raised about possible ripple effects across the country.’
      • ‘Comment on the possible positive and negative effects that a change such as this could have.’
      • ‘Oral contraceptive pills are distributed by health workers without mention of possible side effects.’
      • ‘The results are then tabulated in a series of checklists or grids to indicate possible or probable health effects.’
      • ‘It also agreed to fund a scientific research programme into the possible health effects.’
      • ‘Anything less dramatic would not make people think any differently about the possible effects of climate change.’
      • ‘Several possible explanations exist for this improvement in asthma during and after weight reduction.’
      • ‘This does not contradict probable and possible effects, but it hides these words.’
      • ‘The possible side effects of these, when used externally on the skin, can include bruising and thinning of the skin.’
      • ‘The European ban on GM was a result of public concern about its possible effects on health and the environment.’
      • ‘The possible knock-on effect of this is a new breed of more aggressive and competitive women.’
      • ‘The most that can be said is that a state must notify and consult wherever a possible conflict of interest exists.’
      • ‘His widow called for more to be done to warn former millworkers of the possible effects of asbestos.’
      conceivable, plausible, imaginable, thinkable, believable, likely, potential, probable, credible, tenable, odds-on
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    2. 1.2attributive Able to be or become; potential.
      ‘he was a possible future customer’
      • ‘She said she could not say anything about any possible developments at the site.’
      • ‘The site also includes a surface car park with possible development potential.’
      • ‘We felt we had a moral duty not to expose our customers to possible attacks as well.’
      • ‘Then a horse dies underneath you, you crash to the ground and in an instant you go from future star to possible paraplegic.’
      • ‘The property comes with a range of traditional farm buildings that have possible development potential.’
      potential, prospective, likely, probable, could-be, would-be, aspiring
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    3. 1.3with superlative Having as much or as little of a specified quality as can be achieved.
      ‘children need the best education possible’
      ‘the shortest possible route’
      • ‘On the other hand the insurer has to balance the lowest possible cost with the quality of the job.’
      • ‘In the Peace Academy they always teach you to be prepared for the worst possible scenario.’
      • ‘It expands opportunities and creates wealth for the greatest possible number of people.’
      • ‘I tried to make it flow as much as possible under the circumstances.’
      • ‘In order to get the most from the experience we decided to avoid as much of the motorway route as possible.’
      • ‘It provides the best set of features with the highest possible quality in maps.’
      • ‘I'll be at the back, doing whatever I can to ensure the greatest good of the greatest possible number.’
      • ‘So you can see that just picking any old ferry route and the cheapest possible crossing may not necessarily be the best plan.’
      • ‘To take care of those who need the health care and as high a quality as possible.’
      • ‘And I think we need to do everything humanly possible to achieve that goal.’
      • ‘The role of the NHS is to delay death and improve the quality of life as much as is possible.’
      • ‘A meeting for all members is being held on Wednesday to build the largest possible turnout in the ballot and to deliver a yes vote.’
      • ‘Well here we just keep things simple, a great quality product at the lowest possible price.’
      • ‘In the worst possible scenario it might even mean the end of his series.’
      • ‘I suggested that we should bundle the kids into the car and go to Berlin in as direct a route as possible.’
      • ‘So we will need as much information as possible in order to do that.’
    4. 1.4attributive (of a number or score) as high as is achievable in a test, competition, or game.
      ‘he scored 723 points out of a possible 900’
      • ‘For they will have the freedom to boost their quota of scores to the highest possible tally.’
      • ‘To facilitate pooling, soreness scores were converted to percentages of the maximum possible score.’
      • ‘Ace is the highest possible score and when a player reaches or passes this score the game ends.’
      • ‘It has been awarded the highest possible score for its teaching quality.’


  • 1A person or thing that has the potential to become or do something, especially a potential candidate for a job or membership on a team.

    ‘I have marked five possibles with an asterisk’
    • ‘Breathing down the necks of the two frontrunners are a pack of possibles.’
    • ‘‘All the sprint races at York, Haydock and the Breeders Cup are possibles,’ he said.’
    • ‘Their striker, who had a knee operation during the summer, missed the probables versus possibles contest at Maine Road last weekend.’
    • ‘The draw isn't being made until next Sunday anyway, so it is pointless talking about the possibles until we see who we get.’
    • ‘The other players who were not in the initial tour squad because of injury problems are still possibles for the trip to Australia.’
    • ‘The general manager said their coach intended calling up all the possibles for the critical Ghana game - including the walking wounded, whose fitness will be assessed on the spot.’
    • ‘A veteran himself at 35 he could prove to be a valuable addition to the club and a possible for the first team squad.’
    • ‘Other Malibu possibles include Unbridled Time.’
    • ‘Most of the other players on show would be unwilling to move to Stockport, especially given their wage demands, but a couple of young Leicester players are perhaps possibles.’
    • ‘I guess that eliminates some of the possibles from the list of unnamed ‘foreign leader’ voices that he's been hearing.’
    applicant, job applicant, job-seeker, prospective employee
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    1. 1.1the possible That which is likely or achievable.
      ‘they were living right at the edge of the possible’
      • ‘The first commitment must be to the dialogue process and to achieve the possible.’
      • ‘Managers may be described as being too busy doing the possible to find time to reach for the difficult or impossible.’
      • ‘We have done the possible, can we do better?’


Late Middle English: from Old French, or from Latin possibilis, from posse ‘be able’.