Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • adjective Impossible to attain.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • Not to be attained or gained.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

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

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

  • adjective impossible to achieve

Etymologies

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From un- + attain + -able

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

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

    Autobiography of a Yogi

  • Aspiration toward the unattainable is the condition of growth.

    Selections from the Poems and Plays of Robert Browning

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