Both the word "Ineffable" and "Circumlocution" are contradictory by definition. For context;

first The very existence of the words shows defies its definition; so should one say "indescribable" as that expresses the nature, and connotes the meaning of the word Ineffable

Likewise, I can't quote this hear any longer as the definition has changed in both Merriam-Webster and Dictionary.com have recently changed their definition from to

So two questions; 1. As far as writing, does the use of these words have any effect on a writers prestige, and 2. Is there a word for Words that defy their very definition

Also; I'm very interested to see if anyone has any other words to add to this

Please don't dislike or arrow down this post just because you have no interest, if you believe the subject to be inane, hyperbole, or not worthy of Merritt please leave a comment.

  • 1
    Your question is either unanswerable or a dupe. It is poorly explained. The answer to your first question is offtopic; the answer to your second question is oxymoron.
    – tchrist
    Apr 23 '13 at 14:55
  • @tchrist - take a look at the post made p.s.w.g. I think that the answer provided there is not only sufficient but very well thought out.
    – Dutch
    Apr 23 '13 at 15:09
  • 1) What is this question?? [really hard to follow what you are saying] 2) No one here flags just because he is not interested and even if he does, it depends on the moderators. As far as down-voting is considered, again the same not done for lack of interest but for other obvious reasons.
    – Raghav
    Apr 23 '13 at 15:33
  • (1) Prestige is earned by established brilliance; there are not one or two words that can make an author prestigious, or prevent an author from earning prestige. (2) Your assertions that (a) the two words in question are "are contradictory by definition" and (b) "The very existence of the words shows defies its definition" seem rather inane. (3) You seem to be saying that "indescribable" is a better word than ineffable; if you're saying the latter is always preferable over the former – to the point where an author's reputation would be hurt for choosing one over the other – that's nonsense.
    – J.R.
    Apr 23 '13 at 18:10

As far as your question about prestige goes, I don't think I can answer it, but I can answer your second question. A word that does not describe itself is heterological -- from Wikipedia:

The opposite [of autological] is heterological, a word that does not apply to itself

But that doesn't really mean they defy their own definition, they simply do not fit their own definition. Perhaps you're thinking more of a xenonym -- from Wikipedia

In semantics, xenonymy is a term used, together with tautonymy and philonymy, for distinguishing various types of semantic relations between lexical units combined with each other within a phrase or syntagma. Xenonymy is defined as semantic dissonance between a given unit and its syntagmatic context, originating from conflicting presuppositions. It can be distinguished by degrees of dissonance as inappropriateness (e.g. "the plant kicked the bucket" instead of "died"), paradox (e.g. "male aunt") or incongruity (e.g. "a lustful affix"). In such cases, the unfitting word or expression is termed a xenonym with regard to its context. Semantic xenonymy is opposed to tautnonymy (pleonastic relation) and philonymy (normal case, harmony).

Although by that definition, it would refer to the relationship between words in a phrase. When you apply such word to a noun, the phrase becomes a xenonym -- e.g. an indescribable thing is a xenonym.

  • +1 Really good stuff in your answer! Can't wait to see more like this one. :-)
    – user21497
    Apr 23 '13 at 16:56
  • Have you references for the 'degrees of dissonance' categories, please (or are they your own thoughts)? I nearly commented that 'male aunt' constitutes a contradiction in terms rather than a paradox, but I'm not sure how 'sex-changes' might affect terminology. Apr 23 '13 at 18:14
  • @EdwinAshworth It's a quote from Wikipedia, not my own thoughts, but there is a reference in the linked page. The phrase male aunt produces dissonance even if there are less accepted forms of the words that might allow it to be read without contradiction. However, I doubt it's a true paradox in the same way that "the word 'heterological' is heterological" is a paradox.
    – p.s.w.g
    Apr 23 '13 at 18:50

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