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im•pos•si•bil•i•ty(ɪmˌpɒs əˈbɪl ɪ ti, ˌɪm pɒs-)
n., pl. -ties.
- About as much chance as a man with a wooden leg in a forest fire —George Broadhurst
- About as possible as hell freezing over —Clifford Odets
- As feasible as capturing the rain in a thimble —Jonathan Kellerman
- As likely as a mouse falling in love with a cat —Anon
- As likely as a talk by Doctor Ruth [Dr. Ruth Westheimer, sex therapist/media personality] in a fundamentalist church —Elyse Sommer
- As likely as to see a hog fly —H. G. Bohn’s Handbook of Proverbs
- As likely to happen as hair growing on the palm of my hand —Anon
- (Anything of a sexual sort seemed) as remote as landing on the moon or applying for French citizenship —Kingsley Amis
- As unlikely as your car metamorphosing into a rocket ship —Elyse Sommer
- Calling on [emotional] memory for so long a leap was like asking power of a machine wrecked by rust —Wilbur Daniel Steele
- Getting him to join (the Federal Witness Program) was like getting the Ayatollah Khomenei to enroll in a rabbinical school —Doug Feiden
- Has about as much chance as a cootie on Fifth Avenue —Maxwell Anderson/Laurence Stallings
- Has about as much chance of making it into the history books as a fart in a cyclone [about fictional President] —Peter Benchley
- Have about as much chance as a woodpecker making a nest in a concrete telephone pole —Anon sports writer, about a bad baseball team
- 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.
- 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.
- Impossible as expecting a hook to hold soft cheese —Anon
- Impossible as it would be to fire a joke from a cannon —Bartlett’s Dictionary of Americanisms
- 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
- Impossible as scratching your ear with your elbow —American colloquialism, attributed to Southwest
- 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.
- Impossible as to imagine a man without a head —Francisque Sarcey
- Impossible as to pull hair from a bald man’s head —Anon
- Impossible as to rivet a nail in a custard pie —Anon
- Impossible as to straighten a dog’s tail —Anon
- Impossible as trying to put on a laughter exhibition in a morgue —J. B. Priestly
- 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.
- 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.”
- Impossible as voting “maybe” —Maurine Neuberger
Transposed from “Many times I wished I could vote ‘maybe’.”
- Impossible … like compressing the waters of a lake into a tight, hard ball —Vita Sackville-West
- Impossible … like denying a champion fighter the right to compete in the ring on the grounds that he might be hurt —Beryl Markham
- 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.
- Impossible … like looking for a grain of rice in a bundle of straw —Dominique Lapierre
- 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.
- Impossible … like playing tennis with the net down —Robert B. Parker
- 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.”
- Impossible … like stopping a runaway horse with your pinkie —William Mcllvanney
- 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.
- Impossible like trying to make cheesecake out of snow —Anon
- Impossible like trying to write on a typewriter while riding a stagecoach —Dr. Ellington Darden
- Impossible like trying to knock down the Great Wall with a nail file —Arty Shaw
- Impossible [to keep a secret from my wife] like trying to sneak the dawn past the rooster —Fred Allen
- Impossible to explain … like telling a religious household you had decided God was nonsense —Harvey Swados
- It [a hard-to-beat record] was like DiMaggio’s consecutive-game hitting streak: unapproachable —T. Coraghessan Boyle
- It was like talking to a tree and expecting a reply —Clive Cussler
- 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.
- 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
- It [changing person’s mind about another] was like trying to turn a mule —H. E. Bates
- It [trying to sift through events from the past] was not unlike hunting for odd-colored stones in tidal flats —Norman Mailer
- (Blackmailing Laidlow would be) like trying to catch a bull with a butterfly net —William Mcllvanney
- No more chance than a one-legged man in a football game —Elbert Hubbard
- No more possible than the development of an orchid in the middle of a crowded street —W. H. Mallock
- No more than chance than a motorist who passed a red light talking a policeman out of giving him a ticket —Anon
- The odds were like poison —Tim O’Brien
- To translate this situation to reality would be like trying to stuff a cloud in a suitcase —W. P. Kinsella
- 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
- Unlikely as to see a stone statue walking —Anon
|Noun||1.||impossibility - incapability of existing or occurring|
unattainableness - the state of being unattainable
|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"