[ 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.

Nearby words

  1. impart,
  2. impartial,
  3. impartiality,
  4. impartible,
  5. impassable,
  6. impassible,
  7. impassion,
  8. impassionate,
  9. impassionately,
  10. impassioned

Origin of impasse

1850–55; < French, equivalent to im- im-2 + -passe, stem of passer to pass Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for impasse

British Dictionary definitions for impasse


/ (æmˈpɑːs, ˈæmpɑːs, ɪmˈpɑːs, ˈɪmpɑːs) /


a situation in which progress is blocked; an insurmountable difficulty; stalemate; deadlock

Word Origin for impasse

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

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