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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. 1605, William Shakespeare, All’s Well That Ends Well, Act II, Scene 3,[1]
      My lord, you do me most insupportable vexation.
    • 1749, Henry Fielding, The History of Tom Jones, a Foundling, Book I, Chapter 13,[2]
      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 inconveniences 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, Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice, Volume I, Chapter 2,[3]
      “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,[4]
      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,[5]
      [] 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,[6]
      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,[7]
      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]




  • IPA(key): /ɛ̃.sy.pɔʁ.tabl/


insupportable (plural insupportables)

  1. intolerable; insupportable; unbearable

Further reading[edit]

Middle French[edit]


insupportable m or f (plural insupportables)

  1. intolerable; insupportable; unbearable