Apparently, ineffable is one of the most searched for words on the internet today. This is entertaining because it is ironic that someone should search for the meaning of a word which means that which has meaning which can not be expressed.
I think ineffable is one of those words which comes up around a holiday like Easter, as folks bust out scripture, while being a bit fuzzy on what the bunnies mean. So, as a service to the community, we thought we’d help everyone out with, not the nine billion names of G-d, but at least the ten most useful definitions of ineffable.
Ineffable is . . .
1. incapable of being expressed or described in words; inexpressible: ineffable joy. (Random House)
2. not to be spoken because of its sacredness; unutterable: the ineffable name of the deity. (Random House)
3. Incapable of being expressed; indescribable or unutterable. Unspeakable. (The American Heritage Dictionary)
4. Not to be uttered; taboo: the ineffable name of G-d. (The American Heritage Dictionary)
5. defying expression or description; “indefinable yearnings”; “indescribable beauty”; “ineffable ecstasy”; “inexpressible anguish”; “unspeakable happiness”; “unutterable contempt”; “a thing of untellable splendor” (Princeton’s WordNet)
6. too sacred to be uttered; “the ineffable name of the Deity” (Princeton’s WordNet)
7. Incapable of being expresses in words; unspeakable; unutterable; indescribable; as, the ineffable joys of heaven. (Webster’s Dictionary)
8. That cannot be described, incommunicable, indefinable, indescribable, inexpressible, undescribable, unutterable (Roget’s II: The New Thesaurus)
9. too great for words, beyond words, celestial, divine, empyreal, empyrean, ethereal, heavenly, holy, ideal, impossible, incommunicable, incredible, indefinable, indescribable, inexpressible, nameless, sacred, spiritual, too sacred for words, transcendent, transcendental, unspeakable, untellable, unutterable (Roget’s 21st Century Thesaurus)
10. Ineffable? Is that that hot girl in high school who was saving herself? Or is that uneffable? I get the two confused. (Forrest Black)
Definition #10 is my favorite. (Yes, he was kidding, although don’t try drunk word definition debate games with him because you will not win.) Now that you all know what ineffable means, don’t blame me if the stars start winking out one by one. I’m just the messenger. (Do blame yourself if you are as big a dork as me and get the Arthur C. Clarke reference.) And, if you like furry bunny suits, decorations, candy, and treasure hunts (even for lame treasure like boiled eggs), I’d like to wish you a Happy Easter.