un·​speak·​able | \ˌən-ˈspē-kə-bəl \

Definition of unspeakable 

1a : incapable of being expressed in words : unutterable

b : inexpressibly bad : horrendous unspeakable living conditions unspeakable evil

2 : that may not or cannot be spoken the bawdy thoughts that come into one's head — the unspeakable words— L. P. Smith unspeakable collections of consonants— Rosemary Jellis

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from unspeakable

unspeakably \ ˌən-​ˈspē-​kə-​blē \ adverb

Examples of unspeakable in a Sentence

the unspeakable horror of war continually encountered unspeakable beauty in their travels through the Alps

Recent Examples on the Web

Each and every one of them led to unspeakable suffering for children, families and entire communities. Washington Post, "UN: 1 in 4 children live in country of conflict or disaster," 11 July 2018 Our unspeakable treatment of migrant children and flippant disregard for their safety should invoke moral outrage. Jenn M. Jackson, Teen Vogue, "Separating Children From Parents is Shocking And Inhumane — It Is Also An American Tradition," 22 June 2018 Detective Ralph Anderson is ready to send Maitland to death row for his unspeakable crimes. Karin Slaughter, Philly.com, "Stephen King's 'The Outsider': A thrill ride from an American classic writer," 1 June 2018 Detective Ralph Anderson is ready to send Maitland to death row for his unspeakable crimes. Karin Slaughter, chicagotribune.com, "What Stephen King gets right - and wrong - in 'The Outsider'," 23 May 2018 If combating that unspeakable evil — by securing a vote on legislation to reassert congressional authority over tariffs — required blocking the president’s judicial appointments, so be it. Eric Levitz, Daily Intelligencer, "Jeff Flake Flakes, Says He Won’t Block Trump’s Supreme Court Pick," 28 June 2018 The assumption, dropped amid the cheerful stories of burgeoning careers and domestic scenes of stressful sweetness, that there is hidden unspeakable violence in the world, provides the pivot for the play. Chloe Schama, Vogue, "Theater Can Be Dishearteningly Inaccessible. Carey Mulligan’s Devastating New Play Is Changing That.," 27 June 2018 In Syria and Iraq, the unspeakable acts of Islamic State were proportional to the speed of the terror group’s collapse. Mark Sappenfield, The Christian Science Monitor, "Nigeria’s schoolgirl rebellion," 26 June 2018 The day after the unspeakable tragedy that was the Pulse Nightclub Shooting in Orlando. Meghan Trainor, Billboard, "Meghan Trainor: Love Letter to the LGBTQ Community," 11 June 2018

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

See More

First Known Use of unspeakable

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about unspeakable

Share unspeakable

Statistics for unspeakable

Last Updated

30 Sep 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for unspeakable

The first known use of unspeakable was in the 14th century

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for unspeakable



English Language Learners Definition of unspeakable

: very bad or evil

: impossible to describe in words


un·​speak·​able | \ˌən-ˈspē-kə-bəl \

Kids Definition of unspeakable

1 : impossible to express in words unspeakable beauty

2 : extremely bad unspeakable conduct

Other Words from unspeakable

unspeakably \ -​blē \ adverb

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on unspeakable

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for unspeakable

Spanish Central: Translation of unspeakable

Nglish: Translation of unspeakable for Spanish Speakers

Comments on unspeakable

What made you want to look up unspeakable? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


full of whispering sounds

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Difficult Vocab Quiz

  • the-education-of-achilles-eugne-delacroix
  • Which is a synonym of discomfit?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Add Diction

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.


Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!