/ (ˌʌnəˈteɪnəbəl) /
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not achievable or accomplishablean unattainable goal
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“Was” is used for the indicative past tense of “to be,” and “were” is only used for the subjunctive past tense.
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


What does unattainable mean?

Unattainable means not able to be accomplished or achieved.

It’s especially used to describe things like goals or statuses that are thought to be impossible to achieve in general or with one’s abilities or resources.

The verb attain means to achieve, accomplish, obtain, or gain. It can also mean to reach or arrive at, as in He has attained the age of 100. Unattainable can be used in this sense as well.

Unattainable is the opposite is attainable, which means able to be accomplished or achieved.

Example: Due to the recession, the goal of retiring early now seems unattainable.

Where does unattainable come from?

The first records of the word unattainable come from the 1600s, not long after the first records of attainable. The root word attain is first recorded in the 1300s and comes from the Latin verb attingere, meaning “to reach,” from tangere, “to touch.” The prefix un- means “not” and the suffix -able means “capable of.”

Things that are unattainable are out of reach. A goal may be unattainable because it’s completely impossible, or it may be unattainable because it can’t be accomplished with one’s current means. Unattainable is most often used to describe goals, aims, or certain ways that people want to be. For example, describing beauty standards as unattainable refers to the fact that the average person won’t be able to look like a model.

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What are some other forms related to unattainable?

  • unattainably (adverb)

What are some synonyms for unattainable?

What are some words that share a root or word element with unattainable


What are some words that often get used in discussing unattainable?


How is unattainable used in real life?

The word unattainable can be used in many different contexts, but it’s most commonly applied to goals or dreams considered impossible.



Try using unattainable!

Which of the following words is an antonym (opposite) of unattainable?

A. unachievable
B. unreachable
C. doable
D. unobtainable

How to use unattainable in a sentence