unutterable

unutterable, inexpressible, unspeakable, ineffable, indescribable, indefinable mean incapable of being told or described. All are often nothing more than intensives implying an extreme that goes beyond the power of words to express. In its more explicit denotations Unutterable can imply such various reasons why the thing so qualified cannot be voiced or spoken, as the greatness of one's awe
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my tongue . . . attempts th' unutterable Name, but faints— Watts

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Inexpressible usually applies to what is so delicate, so immaterial, or so subtle, that there are no words to reveal its true or exact nature
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speech able to express subleties . . . that before seemed inexpressibleEllis

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Unspeakable differs little from unutterable in its explicit meaning
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joy unspeakable and full of glory— 1 Pet 1:8

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a thousand memories . . . unspeakable for sadness— Tennyson

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the bawdy thoughts that come into one's head—the unspeakable words— L. P. Smith

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More often, perhaps, unspeakable means too unpleasant, disgusting, or horrible to describe in detail
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twisted shapes of lust, unspeakable, abominable— Tennyson

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a pledge which enabled .. . officers to excuse themselves from any personal responsibility for the unspeakable crimes which they carried out— Shirer
Ineffable is a near synonym of inexpressible, but carries a stronger suggestion of a character that transcends expression because of some elusive quality (as etherealness, spirituality, or ideality)
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ineffable tenderness

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the eyes remained distant and serious, as if bent on some ineffable vision— Wharton

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to explore the delicate involutions of consciousness, the microscopically sensuous and all but ineffable frissons of mental becoming— Mailer

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who shall say that in this silence, in this hovering wan light, in this air bereft of wings, and of all scent save freshness, there is less of the ineffable, less of that before which words are dumb?— Galsworthy

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Indescribable and indefinable may imply to the thing a quality or sometimes the lack of any quality or to the would-be describer or definer a deficiency (as of perceptiveness, understanding, or language) that makes precise description, definition, narration, or explanation impossible
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I keep being conscious of some subtle smell .... It's not exactly a smell, either! It's more than that. It's a taste in the mouth and a strange indescribable feeling through every pore of the body— Powys

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an indescribable horror .... I myself could hardly put it into words. But the effect it has upon me I could describe; only that would make you as miserable as I am— Powys

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our men have fought with indescribable and unforgettable gallantry— Roosevelt

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she lacks the indefinable charm of weakness— Wilde

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if an idea cannot be analyzed into any function of a given set of primitive ideas, it is indefinable relative to that set— Richard Robinson

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men may attribute to women mysterious, indefinable traits which finally prove to be mere capñce—Blankenagel

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New Dictionary of Synonyms. 2014.

Synonyms:

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Unutterable — Un*ut ter*a*ble, a. Not utterable; incapable of being spoken or voiced; inexpressible; ineffable; unspeakable; as, unutterable anguish. [1913 Webster] Sighed and looked unutterable things. Thomson. [1913 Webster] {Un*ut ter*a*ble*ness}, n. {Un*ut …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • unutterable — index ineffable Burton s Legal Thesaurus. William C. Burton. 2006 …   Law dictionary

  • unutterable — (adj.) 1580s, from UN (Cf. un ) (1) not + utterable (see UTTER (Cf. utter) (v.)). As a noun, from 1788; unutterables as a euphemism for trousers is recorded by 1843 …   Etymology dictionary

  • unutterable — ► ADJECTIVE ▪ too great or awful to describe. DERIVATIVES unutterably adverb …   English terms dictionary

  • unutterable — [unut′ər ə bəl] adj. 1. Rare that cannot easily be pronounced 2. that cannot be expressed or described; inexpressible unutterably adv …   English World dictionary

  • unutterable — [[t]ʌnʌ̱tərəb(ə)l[/t]] ADJ GRADED: ADJ n (emphasis) You can use unutterable to emphasize that something, especially a bad quality, is great in degree or intensity. [WRITTEN] I am at the beginning of a new and unutterable loneliness.… …   English dictionary

  • unutterable — unutterably, adv. /un ut euhr euh beuhl/, adj. 1. not communicable by utterance; unspeakable; beyond expression: unutterable joy. 2. not utterable; not pronounceable: an unutterable foreign word. [1580 90; UN 1 + UTTERABLE] * * * …   Universalium

  • unutterable — adjective formal an unutterable feeling is too extreme to be expressed in words: unutterable sadness unutterably adverb …   Longman dictionary of contemporary English

  • unutterable — adj. inexpressible; beyond description (unutterable torment; an unutterable fool). Derivatives: unutterableness n. unutterably adv …   Useful english dictionary

  • unutterable — adjective Date: circa 1586 being beyond the powers of description ; inexpressible < an unutterable tragedy > • unutterably adverb …   New Collegiate Dictionary

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