un·​speak·​able | \ ˌən-ˈspē-kə-bəl How to pronounce unspeakable (audio) \

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

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Other Words from unspeakable

unspeakably \ ˌən-​ˈspē-​kə-​blē How to pronounce unspeakably (audio) \ 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

This act of violence resulted in an unspeakable tragedy for this family. Jeff Truesdell, PEOPLE.com, "Ga. Teen Strangled Sister to Death Over WiFi Password, Gets Life in Prison," 6 Aug. 2019 Yes — people owned slaves, and yes, that is an unspeakable horror. Katherine Timpf, National Review, "The NBA’s PC Move Away from the Word ‘Owner’," 10 July 2019 The unspeakable tragedy of that night didn’t end there. Abigail Haworth, Marie Claire, "The Lost Daughters of Salerno," 1 July 2019 Women in Kashmir have suffered at the hands of the Indian Armed Forces in unspeakable terms. Isaac Chotiner, The New Yorker, "A Kashmiri Novelist on a State Under Siege," 16 Aug. 2019 In stark contrast to politicians tweeting out their intentions or calls to action, the religious communities of the places impacted are the real forces working to mend that which has been torn asunder by unspeakable violence. Kayla Bartsch, National Review, "In a Community Turned Upside Down by Tragedy, ‘Thoughts and Prayers’ Are Everything," 13 Aug. 2019 In ’69, the young people were viewing unspeakable horror. Travis M. Andrews, Washington Post, "Riots, deaths, sexual assault: Maybe Woodstock was always a nightmare," 13 Aug. 2019 In the aftermath of the tragedy, what should have been Trapattoni's crowning achievement paled into irrelevancy, becoming a day remembered of unspeakable pain as opposed to unbridled joy. SI.com, "Giovanni Trapattoni: A Career of 2 Halves That Defined the Golden Era of Calcio at Juventus," 12 Aug. 2019 Each word of Latin text was spit out by the Los Angeles Master Chorale, making Mozart’s unspeakable might astoundingly singable. Los Angeles Times, "Mozart’s Requiem at the Hollywood Bowl takes on special relevance in tragic times," 7 Aug. 2019

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.

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First Known Use of unspeakable

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

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Statistics for unspeakable

Last Updated

2 Sep 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for unspeakable

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

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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 How to pronounce unspeakable (audio) \

Kids Definition of unspeakable

1 : impossible to express in words unspeakable beauty
2 : extremely bad unspeakable conduct

Other Words from unspeakable

unspeakably \ -​blē \ adverb

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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).


formidable, illustrious, or eminent

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