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From Middle French insupportable, from Late Latin insupportabilis. See also in- +‎ supportable.


insupportable (comparative more insupportable, superlative most insupportable)

  1. That cannot be tolerated or endured.
    • c. 1604–1605, William Shakespeare, “All’s VVell, that Ends VVell”, in Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies [] (First Folio), London: [] Isaac Iaggard, and Ed[ward] Blount, published 1623, OCLC 606515358, [Act II, scene iii], page 239, column 1:
      My Lord you do me moſt inſupportable vexation.
    • 1749, Henry Fielding, “Which concludes the first Book, with an Instance of Ingratitude, which we hope will appear unnatural”, in The History of Tom Jones, a Foundling, volume I, London: A[ndrew] Millar [], OCLC 928184292, book I, page 77:
      The Captain, at Mr. Allworthy’s Inſtance, was outwardly, as we have ſaid, reconciled to his Brother, yet the ſame Rancour remained in his Heart; and he found ſo many Opportunities of giving him private Hints of this, that the Houſe at laſt grew inſupportable to the poor Doctor; and he choſe rather to ſubmit to any Inconveniencies which he might encounter in the World, than longer to bear theſe cruel and ungrateful Inſults, from a Brother for whom he had done ſo much.
    • 1813 January 27, [Jane Austen], chapter III, in Pride and Prejudice, volume I, London: [] [George Sidney] for T[homas] Egerton [], OCLC 38659585, page 20:
      “Come, Darcy,” said he, “I must have you dance. I hate to see you standing about by yourself in this stupid manner. You had much better dance.” ¶ “I certainly shall not. You know how I detest it, unless I am particularly acquainted with my partner. At such an assembly as this, it would be insupportable. Your sisters are engaged, and there is not another woman in the room, whom it would not be a punishment to me to stand up with.”
    • 1961, V. S. Naipaul, A House for Mr Biswas, Vintage International, 2001, Part One, Chapter 3,
      But in the prayer-room there was no furniture at all, the ground was of course sacred, and he found the smell of incense and sandalwood insupportable.
    • 2001, “A plague of finance,” The Economist, 27 September, 2001,[1]
      Insupportable debts and chronic instability worsen the developing countries’ dependence on aid, and allow the IMF to tighten the screws even more vigorously next time, at the direction of American bankers.
  2. (of a statement, claim, argument, etc.) That cannot be supported; that cannot be demonstrated or proved.
    • 2001, “Deconstructing Gale Norton,” The New York Times, 7 February, 2001,[2]
      [] the energy debate is in danger of being corrupted by misstatements small and large. Among these is the insupportable proposition that the California energy crisis can somehow be relieved by drilling in the Arctic refuge — an idea Ms. Norton echoed when she said that new drilling would “resolve some of the problems we’ve been having lately.”
    • 2012, “Jennifer Buckingham, Mistakes writ large if reading goes wrong,” The Sydney Morning Herald, 7 May, 2012,[3]
      This is a critical error, which undermines the report and leads the advisory group to make a series of contradictory and insupportable recommendations.
    • 2013, “Canada’s falling crime rate flies in face of Harper policies: Editorial,” Toronto Star, 26 July, 2013,[4]
      For the Conservatives, who came to power in 2006, to claim credit for more than two decades of dropping crime is as laughable as it is insupportable.


Related terms[edit]




Learned borrowing from Late Latin insupportābilis. Morphologically, from in- +‎ supportable.


  • IPA(key): /ɛ̃.sy.pɔʁ.tabl/


insupportable (plural insupportables)

  1. unbearable, intolerable
    Synonym: insoutenable
  2. insufferable, impossible (exceedingly irritating)
    Synonyms: exaspérant, infernal, imbuvable

Derived terms[edit]

Further reading[edit]

Middle French[edit]


insupportable m or f (plural insupportables)

  1. intolerable; insupportable; unbearable