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Wed., Sept. 5, 2012, 4:03 a.m.

A Word A Day — inimitable

September 05, 2012

Word of the Day

  • inimitable
  • audio pronunciation
  • \in-IM-it-uh-bul\


: not capable of being imitated : matchless

"He is involved in roughly six projects, most of them part time and some dormant. Each is different from the others and to each, say those who work with him, he adds something inimitable." — From an article by Timothy Finn in the Kansas City Star, July 18, 2012

"For decades after '60 Minutes' launched in 1968, Wallace was arguably the best-known news figure on television, after Walter Cronkite. Wallace was to 'the interview' what Cronkite had been to the anchor chair—an authority figure with an inimitable style that was both aggressive and seductive." — From an article by Verne Gay in Newsday (Long Island, New York), April 9, 2012


Something that is inimitable is, literally, not able to be imitated. In actual usage the word describes things so uniquely extraordinary as to not be copied or equaled, which is why you often hear it used to praise outstanding talents or performances. (The antonym "imitable" describes things that are common or ordinary and could easily be replicated or surpassed.) "Inimitable" derives via Middle English from Latin "inimitabilis." Be careful not to confuse it with "inimical" or "inimicable," two adjectives meaning hostile or harmful; those words derive from the same Latin root that gave us "enemy" ("inimicus").


From Merriam-Webster Online at

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Spokesman-Review readers blog about news and issues in Spokane written by Dave Laird.