Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • adj. Impossible to attain: unattainable goals.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • adj. Impossible to attain or reach; inaccessible, unobtainable or unapproachable; unable to accomplish; beyond limit.
  • n. Anything that cannot be attained.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • Not to be attained or gained.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • adj. impossible to achieve

Etymologies

From un- + attain + -able (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • Not one of them stood back and said hang on a minute. many of the ‘targets’ (measures of public satisfaction) were unattainable from the start and as such we cannot sign up for it, thanks but no thanks.

    Policing Pledge Is A Lie SHOCK « POLICE INSPECTOR BLOG

  • If he threatens that many jobs they'll vote Republican overwhelmingly making the first term unattainable anyway.

    Election Central Morning Roundup

  • I reply, dear Wevie, that the soul whose desires are not fixed upon the unattainable is dead even while it liveth, and that I am glad, in the midst of all my comforts, to feel myself still a pilgrim in pursuit of something that is neither house nor lands, nor children, nor health.

    Julia Ward Howe, 1819-1910

  • It remained for the smug, "sober judgment" of our day to pronounce it "unattainable" -- unattainable!

    Valere Aude Dare to Be Healthy, Or, The Light of Physical Regeneration

  • Almost the first he had heard of her was that she was "unattainable" -- yet _they_ had known each other at once ....

    Son of Power

  • MCCANN: Well, of course all hostage-takers want the unattainable, which is they want -- supposedly this was in Urdu.

    CNN Transcript Jan 29, 2002

  • These microtonal intervals permit fine shades of musical expression unattainable by the Western chromatic scale of 12 semitones.

    Autobiography of a Yogi

  • Besides, the actual was so barren, so narrow, so strangling, that the dream of the unattainable was the only air in which the soul could survive.

    Hungry Hearts

  • Aspiration toward the unattainable is the condition of growth.

    Selections from the Poems and Plays of Robert Browning

  • Consequently, access to power using legitimate means becomes unattainable, which is why political parties and groups resort to means that ultimately cause political turbulence and social unrest.

    Top Headlines from World Press Review

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