[15] Ineffable literally means ‘that cannot be spoken’. Its ultimate source was the Latin verb fārī ‘speak’, which has also given English fable, fame, fate, etc. Addition of the prefix ex- ‘out’ produced effārī ‘speak out’, from which the adjective ineffābilis was derived. In 19th-century English the word was used as a plural noun, like unmentionables, as a humorous euphemism for ‘trousers’ or ‘nether garments’: ‘shoes off, ineffables tucked up’, William Cory, Letters and Journals 1867. => FABLE, FAME, FATE

The Hutchinson dictionary of word origins. 2013.

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  • INEFFABLE — «Ce dont on ne peut parler, soutenait Wittgenstein, il faut le taire»; car l’inexprimable, le mystique, se montre et ne se dit pas. Un indicible dont il n’y aurait ni ostension ni expression ne serait pas seulement ineffable, il serait inexistant …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • Ineffable — In*ef fa*ble, a. [L. ineffabilis: cf. F. ineffable. See {In } not, and {Effable}, {Fame}.] Incapable of being expressed in words; unspeakable; unutterable; indescribable; as, the ineffable joys of heaven. [1913 Webster] Contentment with our lot …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • ineffable — INEFFABLE. adj. de tout genre. Que les hommes ne peuvent exprimer par aucunes paroles. Il se dit de Dieu, de ses attributs, & des mysteres de la Religion. La grandeur ineffable de Dieu. son nom ineffable. le mystere ineffable de l Incarnation …   Dictionnaire de l'Académie française

  • ineffable — [in ef′ə bəl] adj. [ME < MFr < L ineffabilis < in , not + effabilis, utterable < effari, to speak out < ex , out + fari, to speak: see FAME] 1. too overwhelming to be expressed or described in words; inexpressible [ineffable… …   English World dictionary

  • ineffable — (adj.) late 14c., from O.Fr. ineffable (14c.) or directly from L. ineffabilis unutterable, from in not, opposite of (see IN (Cf. in ) (1)) + effabilis speakable, from effari utter, from ex out (see EX (Cf …   Etymology dictionary

  • ineffable — I adjective amazing, astounding, awe inspiring, awesome, beyond expression, fearful, great, impossible to describe, impossible to express, incommunicable, inconceivable, incredibilis, indefinable, indescribable, inexpressible, infandus, marvelous …   Law dictionary

  • ineffable — *unutterable, inexpressible, unspeakable, indescribable, indefinable Analogous words: *celestial, heavenly, empyrean, empyreal: ethereal (see AIRY): spiritual, divine, *holy, sacred: transcendent, transcendental, ideal, *abstract Contrasted words …   New Dictionary of Synonyms

  • ineffable — [adj] 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* …   New thesaurus

  • ineffable — Ineffable, Ineffabilis …   Thresor de la langue françoyse

  • ineffable — ► ADJECTIVE 1) too great or extreme to be expressed in words. 2) too sacred to be uttered. DERIVATIVES ineffability noun ineffably adverb ORIGIN Latin ineffabilis, from in not + effari utter …   English terms dictionary

  • ineffable — (i nè fa bl ) adj. 1°   Qui ne peut être exprimé par des paroles. •   Tressaillir d une joie ineffable et pleine de gloire, SACI Bible, St Pierre, 1re ép. I, 8. •   Pendant que le pauvre à ta table Goûtera de la paix la douceur ineffable, RAC.… …   Dictionnaire de la Langue Française d'Émile Littré

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