ineffable

play
adjective in·ef·fa·ble \(ˌ)i-ˈne-fə-bəl\

Definition of ineffable

  1. 1a :  incapable of being expressed in words :  indescribable ineffable joyb :  unspeakable ineffable disgust

  2. 2 :  not to be uttered :  taboo the ineffable name of Jehovah

ineffability

play \(ˌ)i-ˌne-fə-ˈbi-lə-tē\ noun

ineffableness

play \(ˌ)i-ˈne-fə-bəl-nəs\ noun

ineffably

play \(ˌ)i-ˈne-fə-blē\ adverb

ineffable was our Word of the Day on 12/04/2008. Hear the podcast!

Examples of ineffable in a Sentence

  1. an ineffable beauty descends upon the canyon as the sun begins to set

Recent Examples of ineffable from the Web

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.

Breaking Down The Roots of ineffable

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").

Origin and Etymology of ineffable

Middle English, from Latin ineffabilis, from in- + effabilis capable of being expressed, from effari to speak out, from ex- + fari to speak — more at ban

Other Religion (Eastern and Other) Terms


INEFFABLE Defined for English Language Learners

ineffable

play
adjective

Definition of ineffable for English Language Learners

  • : too great, powerful, beautiful, etc., to be described or expressed



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