not only improbable but also inconceivable

Discussion in 'English Only' started by NewAmerica, Jan 14, 2018.

  1. NewAmerica

    NewAmerica Senior Member

    Does "improbable" here mean "highly impossible"?

    Thanks in advance

    With this sort of courageous, visionary leadership, the U.S. can help make war between nations not only improbable but also inconceivable, as much so as war is now between Canada and the U.S., or even between New York and New Jersey. Most people find this scenario implausible, even impossible. But far from being a utopian fantasy, ending war should be a moral imperative.

    -Scientific American

    Source: How the U.S. Can Help Humanity Achieve World Peace (Yes, World Peace)
  2. Cenzontle

    Cenzontle Senior Member

    English, U.S.
    I don't think anything can be "highly impossible". If it's impossible, it can't happen.
    There aren't higher and lower degrees of impossibility.
    One way to think of these words is in mathematical terms:
    If you have a bag with ten black balls and no white balls, and you reach in and take out a ball,
    it's impossible for that ball to be white.
    If, instead, there are nine black balls and one white, when you reach in and take out a ball,
    getting the white ball is improbable, but not impossible.
  3. GreenWhiteBlue

    GreenWhiteBlue Senior Member

    The City of New York
    USA - English
    No. It means "unlikely." Note that "highly impossible" is an oxymoron; things are either possible, or impossible; they cannot be "highly impossible."
  4. NewAmerica

    NewAmerica Senior Member

    Thank you. :)

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