Simple Definition of inscrutable
: difficult to understand : causing people to feel curious or confused
Examples of inscrutable in a sentence
Of all the myths that have grown up around Alan Greenspan, the most powerful is the idea that he's willfully inscrutable. —James Surowiecki, New Yorker, 22 Jan. 2001
That wily politicians might adopt Franklin's distinction between appearance and reality to become inscrutable confidence men did not seem to trouble him. —John H. Summers, Journal of American History, December 2000
Supersymmetry is a magic mirror, and everything in what we imagine to be the real world has its ghostly, inscrutable mirror image. —Ian Stewart, Prospect, September 2003
an inscrutable work of art
He was a quiet, inscrutable man.
Did You Know?
You may have to scrutinize this word closely in order to speculate as to its origins, but there is at least one clue in this sentence. Inscrutable derives from the Late Latin adjective inscrutabilis, which can be traced back to the verb scrutari, meaning "to search or to examine." "Scrutari" is also the source of the English words "scrutinize" and "scrutiny." Incidentally, the antonym "scrutable" ("capable of being deciphered or understood") is a part of our language as well, though it's less common than "inscrutable."
Origin of inscrutable
Middle English, from Late Latin inscrutabilis, from Latin in- + scrutari to search — more at scrutiny
First Known Use: 15th century
Seen and Heard
What made you want to look up inscrutable? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).