Many of us grew up with simple native languages with about 3000 basic words –the rest is just a mixture and extension of these basic building blocks. We are in for a big shock when we realize that English has so many words. One concept can be described by ten to twenty different words, each harboring subtle differences, ready to push non-native speakers into a gaffe at the slightest provocation. Here is an example.
There are many words to describe the fact that something cannot be described. I am sure there are more of them out there that I don’t know.
- ineffable: too great or extreme to be expressed or described in words.
- indescribable: too unusual, extreme, or indefinite to be adequately described.
- inexplicable: unable to be explained or accounted for.
- indefinable: not able to be defined or described exactly.
- unexplainable: unable to be explained or accounted for.
- inexpressible: (of a feeling) too strong to be described or conveyed in words.
- unutterable: too great, intense, or awful to describe.
- unspeakable: not able to be expressed in words.
- unmentionable: too embarrassing, offensive, or shocking to be spoken about.
- speechless: unable to be expressed in words.
There is also a group of words that leans more towards the incomprehension rather than the ineffability. It is still indescribable, but the reason for being indescribable comes from the incomprehension rather than anything else.
- inscrutable: impossible to understand or interpret.
- unfathomable: incapable of being fully explored or understood.
- incomprehensible: not able to be understood; not intelligible.
- impalpable: not easily comprehended.
- impenetrable: impossible to understand.
- intangible: difficult or impossible to define or understand; vague and abstract.
- unreadable: not capable of being processed or interpreted
- unintelligible: impossible to understand.
There are another group of words that can be synonyms to indescribable but the emphasis of the meaning varies.
- inarticulate: unable to speak distinctly or express oneself clearly.
- nondescript: lacking distinctive or interesting features or characteristics.
- inconceivable: not capable of being imagined or grasped mentally; unbelievable.
- unthinkable: (of a situation or event) too unlikely or undesirable to be considered a possibility.
- unimaginable: difficult or impossible to imagine or comprehend.
Please let me know if you have used any one of these or know any other “indescribable” words. Also how many shades of indescribable are there? Indescribable due to greatness, incomprehension, horror, stutter…