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  • IPA(key): /ɪmˈpɹɛɡnəbəl/
  • (file)

Etymology 1[edit]

From Middle French imprenable, im- (not), + prendre (to take) +-able (able to be the object of an action). Intrusive ⟨g⟩ added 16c on model of deign, reign.


impregnable (comparative more impregnable, superlative most impregnable)

  1. (of a fortress, wall, etc., also figuratively) Too strong to be penetrated.
    • 1698, Robert South, Twelve Sermons upon Several Subjects and Occasions:
      The man's affection remains wholly unconcerned and impregnable.
    • 1851 November 14, Herman Melville, “The Battering-ram”, in Moby-Dick; or, The Whale, 1st American edition, New York, N.Y.: Harper & Brothers; London: Richard Bentley, OCLC 57395299, page 376:
      Unerringly impelling this dead, impregnable, uninjurable wall, and this most buoyant thing within; there swims behind it all a mass of tremendous life, only to be adequately estimated as piled wood is—by the cord; and all obedient to one volition, as the smallest insect.
    • 1905, Upton Sinclair, chapter XXV, in The Jungle, New York, N.Y.: Doubleday, Page & Company, published 26 February 1906, OCLC 1150866071:
      Jurgis got up, wild with rage, but the door was shut and the great castle was dark and impregnable.
    • 2011 October 2, Jonathan Jurejko, “Bolton 1 - 5 Chelsea”, in BBC Sport[1]:
      And with Bolton suffering a wretched run of five straight home defeats - their worst run in 109 years - Chelsea fans would have been forgiven for expecting a comfortable win. But surely they did not anticipate the ease with which their team raced into an almost impregnable half-time lead.
Derived terms[edit]

Etymology 2[edit]

From impregnate +‎ -able, ultimately from Latin impraegnatus (made pregnant).


impregnable (comparative more impregnable, superlative most impregnable)

  1. Capable of being impregnated.
    • 1979 November 1, “Correlates of patterns of range use of a troop of yellow baboons (Papio cynocephalus). I. Sleeping sites, impregnable females, births, and male emigrations and immigrations”, in Animal Behavior, volume 27, number 4, page 1098:
      The reproductive strategies of troop members, especially those of impregnable females, are suggested to influence patterns of range use.


  • Webster's Third New International Dictionary (1966).