[im-pas, im-pas]


a position or situation from which there is no escape; deadlock.
a road or way that has no outlet; cul-de-sac.

Origin of impasse

1850–55; < French, equivalent to im- im-2 + -passe, stem of passer to pass

Synonyms for impasse Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for impasse

Contemporary Examples of impasse

Historical Examples of impasse

  • "I live at the end of the Impasse des Bourdonnais," he said rapidly.

  • According to them, the investigation into the activities of that ship had come to an impasse.

    Space Viking

    Henry Beam Piper

  • "Seems to be an impasse, Mr. Cornell," he said with an amused smile.

    Highways in Hiding

    George Oliver Smith

  • He got round the impasse by kicking out the foot rest of the third chair.

    The Pagan Madonna

    Harold MacGrath

  • Here was an impasse from which obviously there was but one method of extrication.

British Dictionary definitions for impasse



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