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[pas-uh-buh l, pah-suh-] /ˈpæs ə bəl, ˈpɑ sə-/
capable of being passed through, beyond, or over; fit to be traversed, penetrated, crossed, etc., as a road, forest, or stream.
adequate; acceptable:
a passable knowledge of French.
capable of being circulated legally or having a valid currency, as a coin.
capable of being or liable to be ratified or enacted:
passable legislation.
Origin of passable
late Middle English
1375-1425; late Middle English < Middle French; see pass, -able
Related forms
passableness, noun
unpassable, adjective
Can be confused
passable, passible.
2. presentable, respectable, allowable, tolerable, fair. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2016.
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Examples from the Web for unpassable
Historical Examples
  • The crossing would have been laborsome for a horse; for an automobile it was unpassable.

  • It was a soul-stirring sight, and one of unpassable grandeur.

  • A day's march "through most unpassable rocks and cliffs" brought them to within sight of the island of San Juan at the east end.

  • But always there is a barrier between her and me; a barrier impalpable yet unpassable.

    The Red Symbol John Ironside
  • The unpassable danger of last night was only difficulty in the morning, and shakily and in fear he overcame it.

    Yonder Emily Hilda Young
  • It was a place among rocks, very steep, and unpassable for water.

  • And so they came to the swart arboreal precipice of the unpassable forest.

    The Book of Wonder Edward J. M. D. Plunkett, Lord Dunsany
  • There were sentries, but the night was dark, the marsh believed to be unpassable, the crossing carried out with stealthy skill.

    Foes Mary Johnston
British Dictionary definitions for unpassable


adequate, fair, or acceptable: a passable speech
(of an obstacle) capable of being passed or crossed
(of currency) valid for general circulation
(of a proposed law) able to be ratified or enacted
Derived Forms
passableness, noun
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 unpassable



early 15c., "that may be crossed," from pass (v.) + -able, or from Old French passable "fordable, affording passage" (14c.). Sense of "tolerable" is first attested late 15c. Related: Passably.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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