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See more synonyms for inscrutable on Thesaurus.com
  1. incapable of being investigated, analyzed, or scrutinized; impenetrable.
  2. not easily understood; mysterious; unfathomable: an inscrutable smile.
  3. incapable of being seen through physically; physically impenetrable: the inscrutable depths of the ocean.
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Origin of inscrutable

First recorded in 1400–50; late Middle English word from Late Latin word inscrūtābilis. See in-3, scrutable
Related formsin·scru·ta·bil·i·ty, in·scru·ta·ble·ness, nounin·scru·ta·bly, adverb

Synonyms for inscrutable

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Synonym study

1. See mysterious.

Antonyms for inscrutable

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words for inscrutability

riddle, conundrum, subtlety, question, enigma, secrecy, problem, thriller, puzzlement, isolation, seclusion, mystification, perplexity, stickler, cliffhanger, twister, occult, cryptogram, crux, difficulty

Examples from the Web for inscrutability

Contemporary Examples of inscrutability

Historical Examples of inscrutability

  • It was all humbug––all this mummery about intuitions and unerring perception and inscrutability.


    Holworthy Hall

  • In a kind of radiance, superb in her inscrutability, she laughed before him.

    The Rainbow

    D. H. (David Herbert) Lawrence

  • And he was so glad that this decree was inexorable, that its inscrutability did not trouble him at all.

  • Was it not De Quincey that had a horror of the Chinese—of their inhumaneness and their inscrutability?

    From Sea to Sea

    Rudyard Kipling

  • "I hope so," she said, with no diminution of her inscrutability.

    The Regent

    E. Arnold Bennett

British Dictionary definitions for inscrutability


  1. incomprehensible; mysterious or enigmatic
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Derived Formsinscrutability or inscrutableness, nouninscrutably, adverb

Word Origin for inscrutable

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

Word Origin and History for inscrutability


1650s, from inscrutable + -ity.

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

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper