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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 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.


British Dictionary definitions for ineffably

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 ineffably

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