impracticable, impractical
These two words have related meanings to do with the impossibility of doing something, and correspond to the positive forms practicable, practical. Impractical is a relatively recent (19c) word and means the same as unpractical, i.e. ‘not practical or realistic’; it can also be used of a person, with the meaning ‘lacking the ability to do practical things’, and usually has a general application. Impracticable means ‘not able to be carried out, not feasible’, and is more usually applied to particular cases. In practice, however, the two words are close enough in meaning to run the frequent risk of getting in each other's way:

• As his arms were full of books it would have been impracticable for him to wave —J. I. M. Stewart, 1974

• I have always been ridiculously impractical…I cannot repair a fuse —F. Howerd, 1974

• Her plans were so impractical that someone like me was necessary to point this out —Anita Brookner, 1987

• It would be impracticable to provide full-time security in cemeteries —Birmingham Post, 2003

• If she lost her licence it would have a catastrophic effect.…It would be totally impractical for her to use public transport —Essex Chronicle, 2007.

Modern English usage. 2014.

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Impractical — Im*prac ti*cal, a. Not practical. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • impractical — index hot blooded, impracticable, otiose, quixotic, speculative, theoretical, unattainable Burton s Legal Thesaurus. Willi …   Law dictionary

  • impractical — (adj.) 1823, from assimilated form of IN (Cf. in ) (1) not, opposite of + PRACTICAL (Cf. practical). IMPRACTICABLE (Cf. Impracticable) in the same sense dates from 1670s …   Etymology dictionary

  • impractical — ► ADJECTIVE 1) not adapted for use or action; not sensible. 2) chiefly N. Amer. impracticable. DERIVATIVES impracticality noun impractically adverb …   English terms dictionary

  • impractical — [im prak′ti kəl] adj. not practical; specif., a) not workable or useful; impracticable b) not handling practical matters well c) given to theorizing; idealistic impracticality n. impracticalness impractically adv …   English World dictionary

  • impractical — adj. VERBS ▪ be, prove, seem ▪ Such a solution proved impractical. ▪ become ▪ make sth, render sth …   Collocations dictionary

  • impractical — [[t]ɪmpræ̱ktɪk(ə)l[/t]] 1) ADJ GRADED: usu v link ADJ, oft it v link ADJ to inf If you describe an object, idea, or course of action as impractical, you mean that it is not sensible or realistic, and does not work well in practice. When stalking… …   English dictionary

  • impractical — adj. impractical to + inf. (it s impractical to live in one city and work in another) * * * [ɪm præktɪk(ə)l] impractical to + inf. (it s impractical to live in one city and work in another) …   Combinatory dictionary

  • impractical — im|prac|ti|cal [ ım præktıkl ] adjective 1. ) not sensible or not likely to be effective or successful: clothes that are attractive but entirely impractical it is impractical to do something: It would be impractical to train so many people in one …   Usage of the words and phrases in modern English

  • impractical — adjective 1 an idea, suggestion, or action that is impractical is not sensible because it would be too difficult, too expensive etc: A 24 hour service would be impractical for a small organization like this. 2 someone who is impractical is not… …   Longman dictionary of contemporary English

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