Definition of ineffable
- ineffable joy
- ineffable disgust
- the ineffable name of Jehovah
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an ineffable beauty descends upon the canyon as the sun begins to set
These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'ineffable.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.
Every tone was a testimony against slavery, and a prayer to God for deliverance from chains. The hearing of those wild notes always depressed my spirit, and filled me with ineffable sadness, wrote Frederick Douglass in his autobiography. Reading Douglass's words, it's easy to see that ineffable means "indescribable" or "unspeakable." And when we break down the word to its Latin roots, it's easy to see how those meanings came about. "Ineffable" comes from "ineffabilis," which joins the prefix in-, meaning "not," with the adjective effabilis, meaning "capable of being expressed." "Effabilis" comes from "effari" ("to speak out"), which in turn comes from ex- and fari ("to speak").
: too great, powerful, beautiful, etc., to be described or expressed
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