Printable Version
Pronunciation: im-pæs-ê-bêl Hear it!

Part of Speech: Adjective

Meaning: 1. Unable to feel emotion, emotionless, cold, impassive. 2. Incapable of suffering, feeling pain.

Notes: Here is a word that is one letter away from another wholly unrelated word: impassable "impossible to pass or get around". In the Rhyme zone's list of examples impassible replaces impassable in many of the sample sentences. The noun for this word is impassibility and the adverb, impassibly.

In Play: Just remember this word doesn't mean "unable to be passed": "Frieda's face was as cold and impassible as though she was at a funeral when she told her husband, 'No, I can't do that.'" It means "emotionless": "Marjorie was impassible as she could be when she told each employee that he or she would be laid off."

Word History: English stole this word from its favorite pillaging ground, Old French, which maintains to this day impassible in its vocabulary. The word comprises im-, an assimilated form of in- "not, without, un-" + passible "able to feel pain, emotion". Passible is the French rendition of Latin passibilis "capable of emotions", an adjective based on the verb pati "to suffer, endure" from Proto-Indo-European pei- "to hurt, harm, shame", found also beneath Sanskrit papa- "bad, wicked", Greek pema "ruin", Albanian pësoj "undergo, endure", English fiend, French pâtir "to suffer", Italian patire "to suffer". The noun for the Latin verb pati is passio(n) "suffering", ultimate source of English passion. (M. W. Gringa set off the exploration of today's intricate Good Word by suggesting its synonym, impassive.)

Dr. Goodword,

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