AskDefine | Define impossible

Dictionary Definition

impossible adj
1 not capable of occurring or being accomplished or dealt with; "an impossible dream"; "an impossible situation" [ant: possible]
2 totally unlikely [syn: inconceivable, out of the question, unimaginable]
3 used of persons or their behavior; "impossible behavior"; "insufferable insolence" [syn: insufferable, unacceptable, unsufferable] n : something that cannot be done; "his assignment verged on the impossible"

User Contributed Dictionary


Alternative spellings


From French impossible, from Latin impossibilis, from in- ‘not’ + possibilis ‘possible’, from posse ‘to be able’ + suffix -ibilis ‘-able’.


  • (UK) /ɪmˈpɒsəbl/
  • (US) /ɪmˈpɑsəbl/
  • Hyphenation: im·pos·si·ble


  1. Not possible, not able to be done
    Nothing is impossible, only impassible. --Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland
  2. Of a person, very difficult to deal with.
    You never listen to a word I say - you're impossible!


not possible
very difficult to deal with

Related terms


  1. An impossibility.
    • Late C14: “Madame,” quod he, “this were an inpossible!” — Geoffrey Chaucer, ‘The Franklin's Tale’, Canterbury Tales
  2. (with definite article) unachievable.
    Time travel, so far as we know is impossible!


an impossibility

Extensive Definition

In contract law, impossibility is an excuse for the nonperformance of duties under a contract, based on a change in circumstances (or the discovery of preexisting circumstances), the nonoccurrence of which was an underlying assumption of the contract, that makes performance of the contract literally impossible. For such a defense to be raised, performance must not merely be difficult or unexpectedly costly for one party; there must be no way for it to actually be accomplished.
For example, if Rachel contracts to pay Joey $1000 to paint her house on October 1, but the house burns to the ground before the end of September, Rachel is excused from her duty to pay Joey the $1000, and he is excused from his duty to paint her house; however, Joey may still be able to sue for the unjust enrichment of any benefit conferred on Rachel before her house burned down.
The English case that established this doctrine at common law is Taylor v. Caldwell.

Related to science

  • Impossibility by John D. Barrow ©1998 ISBN 0-09-977211-6 - Investigates the limits of science and the science of limits.

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

Privacy Policy, About Us, Terms and Conditions, Contact Us
Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2
Material from Wikipedia, Wiktionary, Dict
Valid HTML 4.01 Strict, Valid CSS Level 2.1