inscrutable

adjective
in·​scru·​ta·​ble | \ in-ˈskrü-tə-bəl How to pronounce inscrutable (audio) \

Definition of inscrutable

: not readily investigated, interpreted, or understood : mysterious an inscrutable smile inscrutable motives

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Other Words from inscrutable

inscrutability \ in-​ˌskrü-​tə-​ˈbi-​lə-​tē How to pronounce inscrutability (audio) \ noun
inscrutableness \ in-​ˈskrü-​tə-​bəl-​nəs How to pronounce inscrutableness (audio) \ noun
inscrutably \ in-​ˈskrü-​tə-​blē How to pronounce inscrutably (audio) \ adverb

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."

Examples of inscrutable in a Sentence

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 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 an inscrutable work of art He was a quiet, inscrutable man.
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Recent Examples on the Web

The center appears close to getting another $146 million in grants to study the inscrutable disease, which would make it among the largest centers of its kind in California. San Diego Union-Tribune, "USC and UC San Diego try to move on after painful fight over Alzheimer’s institute," 18 Aug. 2019 But that’s true of so many sources of income that journalists rely on already: ad revenue from Google AMP clicks; inscrutable deals with OTT providers; kindly billionaires; and so on. Casey Newton, The Verge, "Amazon’s Twitter ambassadors are blurring the line between fact and fiction," 16 Aug. 2019 Harrison is equally good at portraying Luce’s aw-shucks facade and the more inscrutable man hiding behind it, but his skill with that duality isn’t enough to justify an hour-and-50-minute movie. David Sims, The Atlantic, "A Flawed Thriller About the Myth of the ‘Model Immigrant’," 5 Aug. 2019 From Hideo Kojima's inscrutable Death Stranding to the first core Pokémon games to come to the Nintendo Switch with Pokémon Sword and Shield, the latter half of 2019 is set to be explosive for gamers of all stripes. Brittany Vincent, The Hollywood Reporter, "The Best Games of 2019 (So Far)," 15 July 2019 Talbot’s storytelling approach is a little too hermetic and abstract, and Montgomery is an inscrutable character for much of the movie, played by Majors as a gentle giant who’s been holding in profound insights. David Sims, The Atlantic, "A Painterly Mood Piece About a Changing City," 10 June 2019 And there comes a finally inscrutable history of influences back and forth. Amanda Petrusich, The New Yorker, "Going Home with Wendell Berry," 29 May 2019 But to Netflix subscribers who rarely peruse the site’s anime section, this level of hype — and the show itself — may seem inscrutable. Allegra Frank, Vox, "8 things to know about Neon Genesis Evangelion, the legendary anime now streaming on Netflix," 21 June 2019 If reading financial markets is usually as inscrutable as reading tea leaves, bond investors have decided now is the time to send a message in big, bold letters. Eshe Nelson, Quartz, "$12 trillion of negative-yielding bonds are sending a clear message of distress," 19 June 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'inscrutable.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of inscrutable

15th century, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for inscrutable

Middle English, from Late Latin inscrutabilis, from Latin in- + scrutari to search — more at scrutiny

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Statistics for inscrutable

Last Updated

27 Aug 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for inscrutable

The first known use of inscrutable was in the 15th century

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More Definitions for inscrutable

inscrutable

adjective

English Language Learners Definition of inscrutable

formal : difficult to understand : causing people to feel curious or confused

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