• synonyms


[in-skroo-tuh-buh l]
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


See more synonyms for inscrutable on Thesaurus.com
1. hidden, incomprehensible, undiscoverable, inexplicable.

Synonym study

1. See mysterious.


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

Examples from the Web for inscrutably

Historical Examples

  • He looked at me, inscrutably and attentively, through his gold spectacles.


    Joseph Conrad and F.M. Hueffer

  • But she herself, for a time, continued to wait, only looking up at him inscrutably.

    The Golden Bowl

    Henry James

  • Clare glanced at her inscrutably, and began to score the other essays.

    Regiment of Women

    Clemence Dane

  • He loomed at the back of her thoughts, inscrutably dark and romantic.

    The Happy End

    Joseph Hergesheimer

  • I insisted, but he stared at me inscrutably, and said that he had no record of the man.

British Dictionary definitions for inscrutably


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

Word Origin and History for inscrutably



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