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[im-per-sep-tuh-buh l] /ˌɪm pərˈsɛp tə bəl/
very slight, gradual, or subtle:
the imperceptible slope of the road.
not perceptible; not perceived by or affecting the senses.
something not capable of being perceived by the senses:
metaphysical speculation about imperceptibles.
Origin of imperceptible
From the Medieval Latin word imperceptibilis, dating back to 1520-30. See im-2, perceptible
Related forms
imperceptibility, imperceptibleness, noun
imperceptibly, adverb
2. hidden, unperceivable, undetectable. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for imperceptible
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • God's beginnings are imperceptible, whether in the region of soul or of matter.

    Weighed and Wanting George MacDonald
  • He was accused of putting on an imperceptible touch of rouge.

  • He made no reply, but questioned her by an imperceptible movement of the eyelids.

    The Downfall Emile Zola
  • Those which are equal are imperceptible, and we call them transparent.

    Timaeus Plato
  • Little by little a faint hope crept into my mind—fragile, often imperceptible.

    The Prodigal Returns Lilian Staveley
  • His eyes looked at it, narrowed with attention, as if expecting an imperceptible sign.

    Typhoon Joseph Conrad
  • Her head, he fancied, had made an imperceptible affirmative movement.

    Victory Joseph Conrad
British Dictionary definitions for imperceptible


too slight, subtle, gradual, etc, to be perceived
Derived Forms
imperceptibility, imperceptibleness, noun
imperceptibly, 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 imperceptible

early 15c., from French imperceptible (early 15c.), from Medieval Latin imperceptibilis, from assimilated form of in- "not, opposite of" (see in- (1)) + perceptibilis (see perceptible). Related: Imperceptibly. OED marks imperceivable as "Now rare."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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