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[uhn-in-tel-i-juh-buh l] /ˌʌn ɪnˈtɛl ɪ dʒə bəl/
not intelligible; not capable of being understood.
Origin of unintelligible
First recorded in 1610-20; un-1 + intelligible
Related forms
unintelligibility, unintelligibleness, noun
unintelligibly, adverb
Can be confused
unintelligent, unintelligible.
incomprehensible, baffling, undecipherable. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for unintelligibly
Historical Examples
  • He called back one of the Zaptiehs and muttered to him unintelligibly in Turkish.

  • He read through a sermon after dinner, unintelligibly and even inaudibly.

    Mr. Scarborough's Family Anthony Trollope
  • So Fanny regained life and consciousness; she no longer chattered oddly and unintelligibly, but lay very still and quiet.

    A Hungarian Nabob Maurus Jkai
  • Then it began to whir again in the locust speech of the Martian commentator, explaining rapidly, unintelligibly.

    The Record of Currupira Robert Abernathy
  • They unintelligibly hailed me, and I replied with inarticulate but cheerful sounds, and hurried forward to get into my gaiters.

  • That volume of poems so unintelligibly obscure to all but the dreaming young, who are so unintelligibly obscure to themselves.

    What Will He Do With It, Complete Edward Bulwer-Lytton
  • John Junior muttered again, inaudibly to Miss Lambkin, but not unintelligibly.

    Concerning Sally William John Hopkins
  • He called to them unintelligibly, stumbling up the sharp hill, and pointing to the boots.

    Red Men and White Owen Wister
  • His brain was burning and his mind all abroad: he tossed from side to side and talked vehemently—but even to Helen unintelligibly.

    Thomas Wingfold, Curate George MacDonald
  • And so on and so on, more conjugal talk pattering softly and unintelligibly, until they were both ready to go down to tea.

    The Voyage Out Virginia Woolf
British Dictionary definitions for unintelligibly


not able to be understood; incomprehensible
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 unintelligibly



1610s, "incapable of being understood," from un- (1) "not" + intelligible. Related: Unintelligibly.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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