Also found in: Thesaurus, Legal, Encyclopedia, Wikipedia.
Related to impossibility: Logical impossibility


n. pl. im·pos·si·bil·i·ties
1. The condition or quality of being impossible.
2. Something impossible.


(ɪmˌpɒsəˈbɪlɪtɪ; ˌɪmpɒs-)
n, pl -ties
1. the state or quality of being impossible
2. something that is impossible


(ɪmˌpɒs əˈbɪl ɪ ti, ˌɪm pɒs-)

n., pl. -ties.
1. the quality or state of being impossible.
2. something impossible.




  1. About as much chance as a man with a wooden leg in a forest fire —George Broadhurst
  2. About as possible as hell freezing over —Clifford Odets
  3. As feasible as capturing the rain in a thimble —Jonathan Kellerman
  4. As likely as a mouse falling in love with a cat —Anon
  5. As likely as a talk by Doctor Ruth [Dr. Ruth Westheimer, sex therapist/media personality] in a fundamentalist church —Elyse Sommer
  6. As likely as to see a hog fly —H. G. Bohn’s Handbook of Proverbs
  7. As likely to happen as hair growing on the palm of my hand —Anon
  8. (Anything of a sexual sort seemed) as remote as landing on the moon or applying for French citizenship —Kingsley Amis
  9. As unlikely as your car metamorphosing into a rocket ship —Elyse Sommer
  10. Calling on [emotional] memory for so long a leap was like asking power of a machine wrecked by rust —Wilbur Daniel Steele
  11. Getting him to join (the Federal Witness Program) was like getting the Ayatollah Khomenei to enroll in a rabbinical school —Doug Feiden
  12. Has about as much chance as a cootie on Fifth Avenue —Maxwell Anderson/Laurence Stallings
  13. Has about as much chance of making it into the history books as a fart in a cyclone [about fictional President] —Peter Benchley
  14. Have about as much chance as a woodpecker making a nest in a concrete telephone pole —Anon sports writer, about a bad baseball team
  15. Have about as much chance as a dishfaced chimpanzee in a beauty contest —Arthur Baer

    Bear’s simile was part of a comment about the 1919 Willard-Dempsey fight.

  16. Impossible … like pushing a wet noodle up a hill —Anon Washington aide, Wall Street Journal, July 3, 1987

    The aide made this comparison to illustrate the difficulty of trying to attract attention to economic issues and away from the Iran-Contra scandal.

  17. Impossible as expecting a hook to hold soft cheese —Anon
  18. Impossible as it would be to fire a joke from a cannon —Bartlett’s Dictionary of Americanisms
  19. Impossible as putting the genie back in the bottle —Peter Jennings, commenting on “World News Tonight” about trying to undo damage to Gary Hart’s presidential campaign after release of story about his private life, May 7, 1987
  20. Impossible as scratching your ear with your elbow —American colloquialism, attributed to Southwest
  21. Impossible as setting a hen one morning and having chicken salad for lunch —George Humphrey

    A comment on quick economic changes during Humphrey’s tenure as Secretary of the United States Treasury.

  22. Impossible as to imagine a man without a head —Francisque Sarcey
  23. Impossible as to pull hair from a bald man’s head —Anon
  24. Impossible as to rivet a nail in a custard pie —Anon
  25. Impossible as to straighten a dog’s tail —Anon
  26. Impossible as trying to put on a laughter exhibition in a morgue —J. B. Priestly
  27. Impossible as trying to blow and swallow at the same time —German proverb

    Another example of usage turning a proverbial statement, “You can’t blow and swallow at the same time,” into a proverbial comparison.

  28. Impossible as undressing a naked man —Anon

    Another simile with proverbial origins, in this case the Greek proverb “A thousand men cannot undress a naked man.”

  29. Impossible as voting “maybe” —Maurine Neuberger

    Transposed from “Many times I wished I could vote ‘maybe’.”

  30. Impossible … like compressing the waters of a lake into a tight, hard ball —Vita Sackville-West
  31. Impossible … like denying a champion fighter the right to compete in the ring on the grounds that he might be hurt —Beryl Markham
  32. Impossible … like eating chalk or trying to suck sweetness out of paving brick, or being drowned in an ocean of dishwater, or forced to gorge oneself on boiled unseasoned spinach —Thomas Wolfe

    Wolfe’s writing tended towards excess. Not surprisingly, he tended to string several similes together.

  33. Impossible … like looking for a grain of rice in a bundle of straw —Dominique Lapierre
  34. Impossible … like me trying to wash the Empire State building with a bar of soap —Don Rickles

    The impossible situation described by Rickles is singer Eddie Fisher’s ill-fated marriage to Elizabeth Taylor.

  35. Impossible … like playing tennis with the net down —Robert B. Parker
  36. Impossible … like selling the cow and expecting to have the milk too —Danish proverb

    Transposed from the proverbial form, “You can’t expect to sell the cow and get the blood.”

  37. Impossible … like stopping a runaway horse with your pinkie —William Mcllvanney
  38. Impossible, like trying to get blood out of a turnip —English proverb

    Efforts to get new blood out of this cliche focus on changing the object from which to extract blood … anything from a stone to a corpse.

  39. Impossible like trying to make cheesecake out of snow —Anon
  40. Impossible like trying to write on a typewriter while riding a stagecoach —Dr. Ellington Darden
  41. Impossible like trying to knock down the Great Wall with a nail file —Arty Shaw
  42. Impossible [to keep a secret from my wife] like trying to sneak the dawn past the rooster —Fred Allen
  43. Impossible to explain … like telling a religious household you had decided God was nonsense —Harvey Swados
  44. It [a hard-to-beat record] was like DiMaggio’s consecutive-game hitting streak: unapproachable —T. Coraghessan Boyle
  45. It was like talking to a tree and expecting a reply —Clive Cussler
  46. It was like trying to catch an eagle in a butterfly net —Wallace Turner, New York Times, February 4, 1987, reporting on efforts by Washington State game wardens to capture the large sea lions which had been destroying game fish.
  47. It was like trying to write a description of how to tie shoelaces in a bow for a person who has never seen shoes —W. P. Kinsella
  48. It [changing person’s mind about another] was like trying to turn a mule —H. E. Bates
  49. It [trying to sift through events from the past] was not unlike hunting for odd-colored stones in tidal flats —Norman Mailer
  50. (Blackmailing Laidlow would be) like trying to catch a bull with a butterfly net —William Mcllvanney
  51. No more chance than a one-legged man in a football game —Elbert Hubbard
  52. No more possible than the development of an orchid in the middle of a crowded street —W. H. Mallock
  53. No more than chance than a motorist who passed a red light talking a policeman out of giving him a ticket —Anon
  54. The odds were like poison —Tim O’Brien
  55. To translate this situation to reality would be like trying to stuff a cloud in a suitcase —W. P. Kinsella
  56. Trying to make the company [GM] competitive is like trying to teach an elephant to tap dance —Ross Perot, quoted in Wall Street Journal article by George Melloan, February 24, 1987
  57. Unlikely as to see a stone statue walking —Anon
ThesaurusAntonymsRelated WordsSynonymsLegend:
Noun1.impossibility - incapability of existing or occurring
nonentity, nonexistence - the state of not existing
inconceivability, inconceivableness - the state of being impossible to conceive
unattainableness - the state of being unattainable
possibleness, possibility - capability of existing or happening or being true; "there is a possibility that his sense of smell has been impaired"
2.impossibility - an alternative that is not available
alternative, option, choice - one of a number of things from which only one can be chosen; "what option did I have?"; "there no other alternative"; "my only choice is to refuse"
impossible - something that cannot be done; "his assignment verged on the impossible"


noun hopelessness, inability, impracticability, inconceivability the impossibility of knowing absolute truth
إسْتِحالَه، أمْرٌ مُسْتَحيل
ómöguleiki; e-î ómögulegt eîa óhugsandi
imkânsızlıkolmayacak şey


[ɪmˌpɒsəˈbɪlɪtɪ] Nimposibilidad f
the impossibility of doing sthla imposibilidad de hacer algo
it's a physical impossibilityes físicamente imposible


[ɪmˌpɒsəˈbɪlɪti] nimpossibilité f


nUnmöglichkeit f; that’s an impossibilitydas ist unmöglich or ein Ding der Unmöglichkeit


[ɪmˌpɒsəˈbɪlɪtɪ] n impossibility (of sth/of doing sth)impossibilità (di qc/di fare qc)


(imˈposəbl) adjective
1. that cannot be or be done. It is impossible to sing and drink at the same time; an impossible task.
2. hopelessly bad or wrong. That child's behaviour is quite impossible.
imˈpossibly adverb
imˌpossiˈbility noun
References in classic literature ?
Success presented itself as an impossibility, and the hope of it as a wild hallucination.
Earlier in life, Hester had vainly imagined that she herself might be the destined prophetess, but had long since recognised the impossibility that any mission of divine and mysterious truth should be confided to a woman stained with sin, bowed down with shame, or even burdened with a life-long sorrow.
For besides the great length of the whaling voyage, the numerous articles peculiar to the prosecution of the fishery, and the impossibility of replacing them at the remote harbors usually frequented, it must be remembered, that of all ships, whaling vessels are the most exposed to accidents of all kinds, and especially to the destruction and loss of the very things upon which the success of the voyage most depends.
These discussed the political situation from every point of view, and all that troubled Jurgis was the impossibility of carrying off but a small part of the treasures they offered him.
Shelby read the intelligence with the deepest concern; but any immediate action upon it was an impossibility.
They seemed to realize the impossibility of touching TAR without being defiled.
Elton's best compliments, "that he was proposing to leave Highbury the following morning in his way to Bath; where, in compliance with the pressing entreaties of some friends, he had engaged to spend a few weeks, and very much regretted the impossibility he was under, from various circumstances of weather and business, of taking a personal leave of Mr.
The insipidity of the meeting was exactly such as Elinor had expected; it produced not one novelty of thought or expression, and nothing could be less interesting than the whole of their discourse both in the dining parlour and drawing room: to the latter, the children accompanied them, and while they remained there, she was too well convinced of the impossibility of engaging Lucy's attention to attempt it.
Vanstone's condition rendered any such interview as the lawyer desired a total impossibility.
Lorry, glancing at the House again, "you are to remember, that getting things out of Paris at this present time, no matter what things, is next to an impossibility.
There was no noise, no effort, no consciousness, in anything he did; but in everything an indescribable lightness, a seeming impossibility of doing anything else, or doing anything better, which was so graceful, so natural, and agreeable, that it overcomes me, even now, in the remembrance.
He pretended that his Christian name was Dolge - a clear impossibility - but he was a fellow of that obstinate disposition that I believe him to have been the prey of no delusion in this particular, but wilfully to have imposed that name upon the village as an affront to its understanding.