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[in-ef-uh-buh l] /ɪnˈɛf ə bəl/
incapable of being expressed or described in words; inexpressible:
ineffable joy.
not to be spoken because of its sacredness; unutterable:
the ineffable name of the deity.
Origin of ineffable
late Middle English
First recorded in 1400-50; late Middle English word from Latin word ineffābilis. See in-3, effable
Related forms
ineffability, ineffableness, noun
ineffably, adverb
2. unspeakable. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for ineffably
Historical Examples
  • Great was his confidence, implicit, sublime, ineffably Irish.

    Ireland as It Is Robert John Buckley (AKA R.J.B.)
  • I could not help laughing at the thought, it sounded so ineffably comic.

    Confessions Of Con Cregan Charles James Lever
  • But how ineffably weak and mean did she appear in her own eyes!

    Deerbrook Harriet Martineau
  • Already there was something sacred and ineffably sweet about her voice and face.

    A Spoil of Office Hamlin Garland
  • The things she had said were answered only by his scorn, and she could see he was ineffably ashamed of her.

  • The water-courses were ineffably stony, and, of course, there were no bridges.

    Northern Spain Edgar T. A. Wigram
  • Either this writer is ineffably ignorant, or his impudence is astounding.

    Flowers of Freethought George W. Foote
  • He is ineffably pure, the source of all Truth, the Holy God.

    Curiosities of Superstition

    W. H. Davenport Adams
  • For the rest, His ex-Excellency seemed to be ineffably bored with his new functions.

    Alone Norman Douglas
  • How interesting, how tremendously, ineffably interesting was Life!

    Missy Dana Gatlin
British Dictionary definitions for ineffably


too great or intense to be expressed in words; unutterable
too sacred to be uttered
indescribable; indefinable
Derived Forms
ineffability, ineffableness, noun
ineffably, 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
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Word Origin and History for ineffably



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.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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