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[in-ser-moun-tuh-buh l] /ˌɪn sərˈmaʊn tə bəl/
incapable of being surmounted, passed over, or overcome; insuperable:
an insurmountable obstacle.
Origin of insurmountable
First recorded in 1690-1700; in-3 + surmountable
Related forms
insurmountability, insurmountableness, noun
insurmountably, adverb Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for insurmountable
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • He had dragged himself this far, and reached an insurmountable obstacle.

  • Unused to encounter difficulty, he for a time imagined them insurmountable.

    Imogen William Godwin
  • The difficulties that are before us appear to me insurmountable.

    Imogen William Godwin
  • This would be a barrier the more, an insurmountable barrier between her and him.

    Doctor Pascal Emile Zola
  • It appeared then that for some reason this was an insurmountable objection.

    Tales From Two Hemispheres Hjalmar Hjorth Boysen
British Dictionary definitions for insurmountable


incapable of being overcome; insuperable
Derived Forms
insurmountability, insurmountableness, noun
insurmountably, 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 insurmountable

1690s, from in- (1) "not, opposite of" + surmountable (see surmount). Related: Insurmountably.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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