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inscrutable


In Latin, scrutari means "to search, to examine, or to investigate." Here are some of scrutari's English relatives:

Scrutiny is the act of looking at something (or searching through something) very carefully.

To scrutinize people or things is to put them under your scrutiny: to look at them and judge them in a very careful, thorough, critical way.

Something scrutable can be understood if you look at it carefully or examine it closely. But we hardly ever use that word, scrutable, unless we're pairing it with its opposite, inscrutable:

Something inscrutable is so mysterious or so complicated that you can't understand it, even if you try by looking at it carefully or examining it closely.

Pronunciation:
in SKROO duh bull

Part of speech:
Adjective: "an inscrutable mind," "their intentions are inscrutable."

Other forms:
inscrutably, inscrutableness or inscrutability

How to use it:
Use this formal, emphatic word to talk about inscrutable riddles and mysteries, inscrutable processes and algorithms, inscrutable messages and comments, inscrutable stories and explanations, inscrutable motives and intentions, inscrutable faces and expressions, inscrutable desires and expectations, and so on.

Of course, what's inscrutable to me might not be inscrutable to you: "These local traditions remain inscrutable to visitors."

And although it's usually things that are inscrutable, we can also call people inscrutable, or say they have inscrutable moods, natures, personalities, etc.

examples:
Sometimes I think Faulkner's novels are works of art; other times they're inscrutable frustrations.

"The College Football Playoff selection committee begins the first of its weekly brainstorming on an inscrutable puzzle in a room with no evident booze."



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