[ in-ef-uh-buhl ]
See synonyms for: ineffableineffably on

  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.

Origin of ineffable

First recorded in 1400–50; late Middle English word from Latin word ineffābilis.See in-3, effable

Other words for ineffable

Other words from ineffable

  • in·ef·fa·bil·i·ty, in·ef·fa·ble·ness, noun
  • in·ef·fa·bly, adverb Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use ineffable in a sentence

  • Aunt Rachel's face, ineffably ignorant and ineffably sweet, lit up with a smile of welcome.

    Tramping on Life | Harry Kemp
  • It seemed some angel voice had whispered something ineffably sweet to her.

    Around Old Bethany | Robert Lee Berry
  • Dexter understood himself, and Jessie understood him: such folk make no pretences; they are ineffably real.

  • The whole set make an ineffably sweet impression on our mind, and it is difficult to turn to the other pictures in the room.

    The Story of Perugia | Margaret Symonds
  • Yet she was more familiar to him than the women he had known best, and she was ineffably beautiful and consoling.

    Nona Vincent | Henry James

British Dictionary definitions for ineffable


/ (ɪnˈɛfəbəl) /

  1. too great or intense to be expressed in words; unutterable

  2. too sacred to be uttered

  1. indescribable; indefinable

Origin of ineffable

C15: from Latin ineffābilis unutterable, from in- 1 + effābilis, from effārī to utter, from fārī to speak

Derived forms of ineffable

  • ineffability or ineffableness, noun
  • ineffably, adverb

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