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Unputdownable is an adjective used to describe something, especially a book, so riveting that it is difficult to put down. If you’ve ever forgone chores, work, or homework because you were busy reading a really good book, that book was unputdownable. We also find numerous instances, all in Indian sources, of the word used to mean not able to be defeated.

Unputdownable is a new word, but not so new that dictionaries haven’t noticed it. Merriam-Webster says its first known use was in 1947, and the earliest example in the Oxford English Dictionary is also from that year. But a historical Google Books search uncovers some earlier examples, including one from an 1842 edition of the London Medical Gazette. We’ll include a few of these older examples below, along with some current examples.


Yet, after all, when he became popular and unputdownable, giving in their isolated adhesions to the conqueror, not because they had altered their sentiments, but that their pockets taught them, like nature, to abhor a vacuum. [London Medical Gazette, Volume 30 (1842)]

The book was a new one Gracie had heard about and it was truly “unputdownable,” as the cover had said. [Prairie Schooner, Volumes 15-17 (1941)]

THE CRIMSON THREAD … an unputdownable mystery that is every inch a thriller and a lot more besides. [New York Times Saturday Review of Boooks and Art (1942)]

[I]t was first compiled nearly 2,000 years ago, but this version, colourfully embroidered for a modern audience, I found unputdownable. [Daily Mail]

Just months after being opened, The Book That Can’t Wait is filled with nothing but blank pages. That makes the book unputdownable in an entirely new way. [LA Times]

Armed only with a handicam and an unputdownable spirit, Sheikh Nasir, an amateur filmmaker in Malegaon, a small industrial town about 270 kms outside Mumbai, struggles to make his version of the Superman story. [IBN Live]