Ineffable? As I exited the freeway on my way to my office that word was there to greet me. Printed (Stenciled?) in clear, large block letters upon a concrete wall was the word “INEFFABLE.”
Not what I expected to see driving to work.
Ineffable. I was familiar with the word but did I know its meaning?
When my daughter was young she used to pepper me hourly with questions about words she’d come across and always she wanted to know what they meant. That’s when I realized that being familiar with a word is not the same as knowing it. The litmus test was, could you give the definition to a bright and curious eight year old? Usually the answer was no. More often then not I sent my daughter to the dictionary which we kept with the cookbooks in the breakfast nook because it was while seated around that table that the questions most often arose.
Seeing ineffable brought all that back to me. How lucky was I to have a child who from almost as soon as she could read, inhaled words like other children would air. I had always been the kids with her nose in a book but my daughter was more than that. She looked out at the world and expressed the same wonder about flowers, names of streets, the people we saw, buses and the millions of other things that surrounded her as she did about words on a page. This child was destined to become a wordsmith.
I wondered about the motivation behind “ineffable” on the wall.
Was it put there by someone who missed being asked the questions or who wanted to ask more questions? Were there going to be more words sprinkled about the city? Had Banksy resurfaced in LA exploring language as art? Whoever had put the word there, thank you. It woke me up, brought back memories, ignited my curiosity and sent me to the dictionary.
in·ef·fa·ble [in-ef-uh-buhl] adjective
1. incapable of being expressed or described in words; inexpressible: ineffable joy.
2. not to be spoken because of its sacredness; unutterable: the ineffable name of the deity.
I hope you encounter a new word today – or maybe you just did?