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[im-pas, im-pas] /ˈɪm pæs, ɪmˈpæs/
a position or situation from which there is no escape; deadlock.
a road or way that has no outlet; cul-de-sac.
Origin of impasse
1850-55; < French, equivalent to im- im-2 + -passe, stem of passer to pass
1. stalemate, standstill, standoff, dead end. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for impasse
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • "I live at the end of the impasse des Bourdonnais," he said rapidly.

  • According to them, the investigation into the activities of that ship had come to an impasse.

    Space Viking Henry Beam Piper
  • "Seems to be an impasse, Mr. Cornell," he said with an amused smile.

    Highways in Hiding George Oliver Smith
  • He got round the impasse by kicking out the foot rest of the third chair.

    The Pagan Madonna Harold MacGrath
  • Here was an impasse from which obviously there was but one method of extrication.

British Dictionary definitions for impasse


/æmˈpɑːs; ˈæmpɑːs; ɪmˈpɑːs; ˈɪmpɑːs/
a situation in which progress is blocked; an insurmountable difficulty; stalemate; deadlock
Word Origin
C19: from French; see im-, pass
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 impasse

1851, "blind alley," from French impasse "impassable road, blind alley, impasse," from assimilated form of in- "not, opposite of" (see in- (1)) + Middle French passe "a passing," from passer "to pass" (see pass (v.)). Supposedly coined by Voltaire as a euphemism for cul de sac. Figurative use also from 1851.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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