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ineffable

[in-ef-uh-buh l]
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adjective
  1. incapable of being expressed or described in words; inexpressible: ineffable joy.
  2. not to be spoken because of its sacredness; unutterable: the ineffable name of the deity.
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Origin of ineffable

First recorded in 1400–50; late Middle English word from Latin word ineffābilis. See in-3, effable
Related formsin·ef·fa·bil·i·ty, in·ef·fa·ble·ness, nounin·ef·fa·bly, adverb

Synonyms

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2. unspeakable.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for ineffable

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • There were throes of love within her, of aspiration, of an ineffable delight in being.

    Tiverton Tales

    Alice Brown

  • To dream that dream, this was the great, the ineffable happiness.

  • There was an ineffable mingling of love and sorrow on the sweet countenance.

    Wilfrid Cumbermede

    George MacDonald

  • Rut they were all accompanied with an ineffable dignity, and an angelic purity.

    Imogen

    William Godwin

  • You worship no omnipotent and ineffable essence; you believe in no omnipotent and ineffable essence.

    Vivian Grey

    Earl of Beaconsfield, Benjamin Disraeli


British Dictionary definitions for ineffable

ineffable

adjective
  1. too great or intense to be expressed in words; unutterable
  2. too sacred to be uttered
  3. indescribable; indefinable
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Derived Formsineffability or ineffableness, nounineffably, adverb

Word Origin

C15: from Latin ineffābilis unutterable, from in- 1 + effābilis, from effārī to utter, from fārī to speak
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for ineffable

adj.

late 14c., from Old French ineffable (14c.) or directly from Latin ineffabilis "unutterable," from in- "not, opposite of" (see in- (1)) + effabilis "speakable," from effari "utter," from ex- "out" (see ex-) + fari "speak" (see fame (n.)). Plural noun ineffables was, for a time, a jocular euphemism for "trousers" (1823). Related: Ineffably.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper