Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Word of the day: Ineffable

I really ought to title this Word of the Season, since that's about how often I do it.

Anyway, I was reading a book, all innocent-like, and this word just jumped out at me: ineffable. Immediately I thought to myself, what a wonderful word! It's like the F-word, nicely couched in a prefix and a suffix! Especially if you take that prefix off, and you wind up with effable, which is F-able, only polite.

Except effable isn't in my dictionary, so I guess it doesn't work that way.

I did look up ineffable, though, and was satisfied that it is an adjective meaning (according to the Oxford Paperback Dictionary that I keep on my desk) Too great for description in words, or That must not be uttered.

The prefix in- can apparently mean "in" (how clever!) or "not". So effable would mean speakable. And I see now that Dictionary.com does have that. And its root is Latin, not Saxon, so it has no connection with the F-word at all.

Too bad, really.

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