Definition of ineffable in US English:



  • 1Too great or extreme to be expressed or described in words.

    ‘the ineffable natural beauty of the Everglades’
    • ‘Even on a cloudy day the light beaming through the top of the dome seems to represent the ineffable visitation of divine beauty.’
    • ‘In the final analysis we are left with the ineffable mystery of great music.’
    • ‘If ‘the world’ is something beyond all description, an ineffable thing-in-itself, no real answer to the question has been given.’
    • ‘If (the scripture) had not used such words, how then could we have learnt of these ineffable mysteries?’
    • ‘It is hard to describe the arrogant majesty and ineffable magic of New York to Britons, who treat it, understandably, as just another city.’
    • ‘If truth is ineffable, beyond words, we can't determine whether it can be intuited.’
    • ‘Direct spiritual experience, peak experience, enlightenment or whatever one may call it is usually ineffable and thus hard to describe and pass on.’
    • ‘This historical disinterest has led to a theoretical inability to cope with concepts which people use to describe the ineffable experiences of being.’
    • ‘And for thirty years I missed the ineffable wonder cradled within that biblical imagery.’
    • ‘The visual impact of this film cannot be overstated; every shot captures a moment of ineffable beauty or unspeakable horror.’
    • ‘It also involves invoking a rich panoply of cognitive and affective associations, from mere calculation to ineffable beauty.’
    • ‘And we all went beyond this and found something ineffable… an experience of profound mystery.’
    • ‘This ‘philosophy’ replaces the ineffable mystery of God with the ineffable mystery of consciousness.’
    • ‘Or, as my Alaskan hiking partner puts it when confronted by a scene of ineffable beauty, ‘It's good to be alive.’’
    • ‘Although Plato describes the Forms as ineffable, dialectical language enables their apprehension.’
    • ‘Given the combination of ineffable beauty and extremely unpleasant sensations in my stomach and head, I would be quite content to die here.’
    • ‘The gesture was intended to show his friends and enemies the young man's ineffable beauty.’
    • ‘How to convey in words my ineffable dreams that I have never told anyone about, that cannot be spoken about?’
    • ‘Since each experience is personal and unique, it is ultimately ineffable; it can never be fully described or shared with anyone else.’
    • ‘How is it possible to retain our fantasies about the ineffable and mysterious qualities of love under these circumstances?’
    inexpressible, indescribable, beyond words, beyond description, beggaring description
    unutterable, not to be uttered, not to be spoken, not to be said, unmentionable
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 Not to be uttered.
      ‘the ineffable Hebrew name that gentiles write as Jehovah’
      • ‘Thus all affirmations about God fall short, and only negations about God are really true: God is invisible, ineffable, beyond our names, beyond our words.’
      • ‘It also aligns to various religions teachings which maintain that the true nature of God is unknowable as his or her or its ineffable name.’
      • ‘The text makes reference to the Shem haM' phoras, the ineffable, unspeakable Name of God.’


Late Middle English: from Old French, or from Latin ineffabilis, from in- ‘not’ + effabilis (see effable).