Definition of possible in English:


Line breaks: pos|sible
Pronunciation: /ˈpɒsɪb(ə)l


  • 1Able to be done or achieved: surely it’s not possible for a man to live so long? contact me as soon as possible I’d like the report this afternoon, if possible
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    • But we have to take this up as soon as possible for reasons I will explain when I hear from you.
    • Access as soon as possible for NGOs and aid is particularly important.
    • The practice direction requires all applications to be made as soon as possible and before allocation if possible.
    feasible, able to be done, practicable, viable, within the bounds/realms of possibility, attainable, achievable, realizable, within reach, workable, manageable
    informal on, doable
  • 1.1 [attributive] Able to be or become; potential: he was a possible future customer
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    • The property comes with a range of traditional farm buildings that have possible development potential.
    • The site also includes a surface car park with possible development potential.
    • Then a horse dies underneath you, you crash to the ground and in an instant you go from future star to possible paraplegic.
    potential, prospective, likely, probable, could-be, would-be, aspiring
  • 1.2 [with superlative] Having as much or as little of a specified quality as can be achieved: children need the best education possible the shortest possible route
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    • It provides the best set of features with the highest possible quality in maps.
    • To take care of those who need the health care and as high a quality as possible.
    • On the other hand the insurer has to balance the lowest possible cost with the quality of the job.
  • 1.3 [attributive] (Of a number or score) as high as is achievable in a test, competition, or game: the team have taken just three points from a possible twelve
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    • For they will have the freedom to boost their quota of scores to the highest possible tally.
    • To facilitate pooling, soreness scores were converted to percentages of the maximum possible score.
    • It has been awarded the highest possible score for its teaching quality.
  • 2That may exist or happen, but that is not certain or probable: the possible effects of global warming [with clause]: it is possible that he will have to return to hospital
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    • This does not contradict probable and possible effects, but it hides these words.
    • The results are then tabulated in a series of checklists or grids to indicate possible or probable health effects.
    • Moreover, pure public goods do not exist, with the possible exception of national defence.
    conceivable, plausible, imaginable, thinkable, believable, likely, potential, probable, credible, tenable, odds-on
    informal on the cards


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  • 1A potential candidate for a job or team: I have marked five possibles with an asterisk
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    • A veteran himself at 35 he could prove to be a valuable addition to the club and a possible for the first team squad.
    • Their striker, who had a knee operation during the summer, missed the probables versus possibles contest at Maine Road last weekend.
    • The other players who were not in the initial tour squad because of injury problems are still possibles for the trip to Australia.
  • 1.1 (the possible) That which is likely or achievable: they were living right at the edge of the possible
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    • The first commitment must be to the dialogue process and to achieve the possible.
    • Managers may be described as being too busy doing the possible to find time to reach for the difficult or impossible.
    • We have done the possible, can we do better?
  • 1.2The highest possible score, especially in a shooting competition: Mickey scored the possible
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    • There are possibles, sure, but it will need athletes to perform at a level well above what they have achieved so far this season.
    • Seven however hopes to combat that by the busiest day of the Games when 34 gold medals will be decided on Saturday, including quite a few possibles for us in rowing and swimming.


late Middle English: from Old French, or from Latin possibilis, from posse 'be able'.

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