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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 inscrutably
Historical Examples
  • Her blue eyes were inscrutably grave, but Clara saw a blend of lofty exaltation and corroding anguish in them.

  • But she herself, for a time, continued to wait, only looking up at him inscrutably.

    The Golden Bowl Henry James
  • Con would be the porpoise in a fish tank there, inscrutably busy on his errand and watched for his tumblings.

  • Clare glanced at her inscrutably, and began to score the other essays.

    Regiment of Women Clemence Dane
  • Silently, inscrutably, the gambler dealt the ten cards, one by one.

  • I insisted, but he stared at me inscrutably, and said that he had no record of the man.

  • The steward, too, knew Cytherea's attachment to Edward, and looked keenly and inscrutably at him.

    Desperate Remedies Thomas Hardy
  • Black George continued to smile unpleasantly, the Chinaman to regard them inscrutably.

  • It was a wilderness moon that rose over the spruce to-night,—white as new silver, incredibly large, inscrutably mysterious.

    The Sky Line of Spruce Edison Marshall
  • But the woman at my side must see it mark its seasons; she is inscrutably part of the colony devoted to unending toil!

    The Woman Who Toils Mrs. John Van Vorst and Marie Van Vorst
British Dictionary definitions for inscrutably


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 inscrutably



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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