incapable of being investigated, analyzed, or scrutinized; impenetrable.
not easily understood; mysterious; unfathomable: an inscrutable smile.
incapable of being seen through physically; physically impenetrable: the inscrutable depths of the ocean.

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

Synonym study

1. See mysterious.

Antonyms for inscrutable Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for inscrutably

Historical Examples of inscrutably

  • 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



incomprehensible; mysterious or enigmatic
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 inscrutably



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

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper