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[in-skroo-tuh-buh l] /ɪnˈskru tə bəl/
incapable of being investigated, analyzed, or scrutinized; impenetrable.
not easily understood; mysterious; unfathomable:
an inscrutable smile.
incapable of being seen through physically; physically impenetrable:
the inscrutable depths of the ocean.
Origin of inscrutable
late Middle English
1400-50; late Middle English < Late Latin inscrūtābilis. See in-3, scrutable
Related forms
inscrutability, inscrutableness, noun
inscrutably, adverb
1. hidden, incomprehensible, undiscoverable, inexplicable. See mysterious.
1. comprehensible. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2016.
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Examples from the Web for inscrutable
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • He took it and held it, looking at her in his straight, inscrutable way.

    The Lamp in the Desert Ethel M. Dell
  • How quiet it looked, and, under that vaporous veil, how profound and inscrutable!

  • A fair-haired giant in build, with inscrutable eyes and mouth set grim and straight—such was Lars Larssen.

    Swirling Waters Max Rittenberg
  • He must simply baffle the scoffers by an inscrutable endurance.

    Robert Orange John Oliver Hobbes
  • You proved that fact to me many months ago, said Forbes, with one of his whimsical, inscrutable smiles.

    Three Little Women's Success Gabrielle E. Jackson
British Dictionary definitions for inscrutable


incomprehensible; mysterious or enigmatic
Derived Forms
inscrutability, inscrutableness, noun
inscrutably, adverb
Word Origin
C15: from Late Latin inscrūtābilis, from Latin in-1 + scrūtārī to examine
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 inscrutable

c.1500, from Late Latin inscrutabilis, from in- "not, opposite of" (see in- (1)) + scrutabilis, from scrutari "examine, ransack" (see scrutiny). Related: Inscrutably.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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