Ineffable: the meaning of the word and how to use it

What ineffable means

English is an interesting language as there are so many words to describe something. That said, when you want to convey your thoughts and feelings to other people, sometimes, the normal and mundane words are not enough. Indeed, sometimes you just feel like there was a deeper, sweeter, and better word designated for what you were trying to describe. But what if there was just nothing as grand as what happened? What if there were no words to describe what you saw? Actually, did you know that there is a term for something that’s too great to be expressed in words? That’s right, that term is ‘ineffable’! In this article, we will tell you all about its meaning and how to best use it.

What is the meaning of ineffable?

Ineffable is an adjective, used to describe something so extreme and causing so much emotion that the latter cannot be expressed in words. The subjects that can be used with ineffable include feelings, people, objects, and anything that invokes powerful emotions. Usually, the emotions that this term refers to are highly positive, but in some cases, it can also be used for the extremely negative ones as well as an unspeakable taboo. According to Merriam-Webster dictionary, the word ineffable comes from Middle English, from Latin ineffabilis, from in- + effabilis capable of being expressed, from effari to speak out, from ex- + fari to speak.

How to use ineffable in a sentence?

Ineffable is used to describe deities, gods, or sacred religious names

Many people who are religious sometimes believe that they are not worthy of saying the higher being’s name, or believe no words are good enough to describe the latter. Thus, they use the term ineffable to describe deities and gods or religious names that are highly sacred so that they are not disrespectful to the one they worship. For example, there is a passage in Biblical Basis that said, “…As such God reveals himself as an ineffable mystery. God is known as the one who cannot be known. The name he gives to Moses, “I Am Who Am” (Ex 3:14), is a revelation, but it is also ineffable and incomprehensible. God “dwells in unapproachable light, whom no man has ever seen or can see” (1 Tm 16)”.

Ineffable is used to describe powerful emotions

There are some feelings that are so strong and powerful that people cannot truly describe or explain what they experience. If you ever had to face a similar situation, then using the term ineffable would have been perfectly fine. As an example, parents’ pure love and awe from holding their newborn child for the first time. Or, the happiness and adoration of the bride and groom for each other on their wedding day. These positive feelings are so great that a word like ‘love’ or ‘happiness’ cannot possibly be enough to express their common experience.

On the other side of the spectrum, strong negative emotions can also be expressed with the term ineffable. For the sake of giving an example; parents facing the sudden death of their own child, which would make them feel like their world has fallen apart, could accurately be described as being ineffable.

Ineffable is used to describe events that left a huge impact on the world

Historically, there are some events in the world that left such a strong impact, enough to be expressed with the term ineffable. Usually, they were horrible events that caused losses and sadness, such as World War II. Such an event leaves painful memories in people’s minds to this day, no matter how long it’s been since. Even the places where it took place can be described with the term ineffable too, as they are a reminder of all the suffering that happened there once upon a time.

Ineffable can be used as a way to compliment someone

Sometimes, the term ineffable might be used to describe people, especially celebrities or someone they are infatuated with, to express a very strong attraction toward said celebrity. An ineffable person usually means that this person is unspeakably gorgeous, moving, or wonderful. On the other hand, if used in a negative light, it could mean that this person is so horrendous that to talk about him or her would be totally out of place.

In the end, ineffable is a useful term that can be used when you need to express yourself and that you don’t have any other words to properly communicate how strong your feelings are. It might not be the most useful word in your everyday life, but it’s still a good word to know when the time comes. Surely at some point, you will face something in your life that’s so powerful, so great, and so overwhelming that it’s basically indescribable. Now that you understand how to use this term, go ahead, and impress your friends and family!

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