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[im-pal-puh-buh l] /ɪmˈpæl pə bəl/
not palpable; incapable of being perceived by the sense of touch; intangible.
difficult for the mind to grasp readily or easily:
impalpable distinctions.
(of powder) so fine that when rubbed between the fingers no grit is felt.
Origin of impalpable
First recorded in 1500-10; im-2 + palpable
Related forms
impalpability, noun
impalpably, adverb Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for impalpable
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • This impalpable missive dated from seventeen days previously.

    My Double Life Sarah Bernhardt
  • It was as though her face was covered by an impalpable grey mask.

    Jan and Her Job L. Allen Harker
  • He seemed to see Enid through some impalpable and yet impenetrable medium.

    The Missionary George Griffith
  • "Even now I don't believe in him," the impalpable legend ran.

    The Market-Place Harold Frederic
  • He waited for the sun to pierce this impalpable fog, but waited in vain.

    Despair's Last Journey David Christie Murray
  • The only change was the impalpable one which occurs in a room when a clock stops.

  • The mist was all around and about him, creeping, impalpable, phantom-like.

  • There was only a wretched, impalpable condition to deal with.

    Dream Days Kenneth Grahame
  • The words were kind; yet it was not for their sake that Rickie plunged into the impalpable cloud.

    The Longest Journey E. M. Forster
British Dictionary definitions for impalpable


imperceptible, esp to the touch: impalpable shadows
difficult to understand; abstruse
Derived Forms
impalpability, noun
impalpably, adverb
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for impalpable

c.1500, from French impalpable, from Medieval Latin impalpabilis, from assimilated form of in- "not, opposite of" (see in- (1)) + palpabilis (see palpable). Figurative use from 1774. Related: Impalpably; impalpability.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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