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[in-skroo-tuh-buh l] /ɪnˈskru tə bəl/
incapable of being investigated, analyzed, or scrutinized; impenetrable.
not easily understood; mysterious; unfathomable:
an inscrutable smile.
incapable of being seen through physically; physically impenetrable:
the inscrutable depths of the ocean.
Origin of inscrutable
late Middle English
1400-50; late Middle English < Late Latin inscrūtābilis. See in-3, scrutable
Related forms
inscrutability, inscrutableness, noun
inscrutably, adverb
1. hidden, incomprehensible, undiscoverable, inexplicable. See mysterious.
1. comprehensible. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for inscrutability
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • In religious enterprises, we are apt to fall back on the sovereignty and inscrutability of God.

  • It was all humbug––all this mummery about intuitions and unerring perception and inscrutability.

    Rope Holworthy Hall
  • Secure, however, in the inscrutability of my place of concealment, I felt no embarrassment whatever.

  • In a kind of radiance, superb in her inscrutability, she laughed before him.

    The Rainbow D. H. (David Herbert) Lawrence
  • That wonderful smiling mask—the inscrutability of Youth—was laid aside by her at night.

    The Patrician John Galsworthy
  • And he was so glad that this decree was inexorable, that its inscrutability did not trouble him at all.

    Interrupted Pansy
  • Was it not De Quincey that had a horror of the Chinese—of their inhumaneness and their inscrutability?

    From Sea to Sea Rudyard Kipling
  • On the other hand, Jane's inscrutability gave her no discomfort whatever.

    Seventeen Booth Tarkington
British Dictionary definitions for inscrutability


incomprehensible; mysterious or enigmatic
Derived Forms
inscrutability, inscrutableness, noun
inscrutably, adverb
Word Origin
C15: from Late Latin inscrūtābilis, from Latin in-1 + scrūtārī to examine
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for inscrutability

1650s, from inscrutable + -ity.



c.1500, from Late Latin inscrutabilis, from in- "not, opposite of" (see in- (1)) + scrutabilis, from scrutari "examine, ransack" (see scrutiny). Related: Inscrutably.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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