• synonyms


[im-pal-puh-buh l]
  1. not palpable; incapable of being perceived by the sense of touch; intangible.
  2. difficult for the mind to grasp readily or easily: impalpable distinctions.
  3. (of powder) so fine that when rubbed between the fingers no grit is felt.
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Origin of impalpable

First recorded in 1500–10; im-2 + palpable
Related formsim·pal·pa·bil·i·ty, nounim·pal·pa·bly, adverb
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for impalpability

Historical Examples

  • The spirit finds Dante alive in the flesh and he in turn on account of the impalpability of the shade clasps only empty air.

    Dante: "The Central Man of All the World"

    John T. Slattery

  • One who has faded into impalpability through death, through absence, through change of manners.


    James Joyce

  • To-day, penetrated with the power and impalpability of the spirit, we have lost faith in the arm of flesh.

British Dictionary definitions for impalpability


  1. imperceptible, esp to the touchimpalpable shadows
  2. difficult to understand; abstruse
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Derived Formsimpalpability, nounimpalpably, 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

Word Origin and History for impalpability



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.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper