I'm looking for a name for a 'search target' that is hard to locate primarily because it cannot be described with a handful of key words or a particular phrase. The target of the search could be anything, but in this case it was a particular phenomenon or sequence of events.

This question came about because of the following events:

  1. I was half way through entering a (programming) question in StackExchange, when the answer came to me. I didn't need to continue with the StackExchange question, but the process of typing out the question helped me answer it.
    I figured that this might be a common phenomenon with a name but could not think of a way to phrase a google search that might lead me to an answer.
  2. This led me to wonder if there was a name for the phenomenon of not being able to find something simply because it's difficult to describe.

Once I have the answer to question 2 (this question), I can proceed to ask question 1. I hope that makes some sense.

(sadly phenomenon 1 did not happen as I typed this question)

EDIT: As I'm not particularly confident that words exist to describe these phenomena, and as I'm a Douglas Adams fan, I'm happy to accept 'Meaning of Liff' type names if they sound appropriate.

EDIT: Ungooglable is a good description of the thing I want a name for.

  • 3
    – Jim
    Commented Nov 4, 2015 at 2:09
  • Ungooglable certainly describes the phenomenon. Hoping there's a name for it. Something like an 'obscurism'...
    – andyb
    Commented Nov 4, 2015 at 2:23
  • Hmmm. This seems akin to the following scenario: “I’m looking for a word that describes the color of a strawberry or the color of a ripe apple.”. red. “Yes, that certainly describes what I’m looking for. Hoping there’s a name for it.”
    – Jim
    Commented Nov 4, 2015 at 2:26
  • Apologies Jim. I've edited the question to hopefully clarify that it's a name I'm looking for. Correct me if I'm wrong but wouldn't 'ungooglable' be considered an adjective?
    – andyb
    Commented Nov 4, 2015 at 2:30
  • 1
    How about unkeywordable ?
    – ermanen
    Commented Nov 4, 2015 at 21:37

2 Answers 2


If you don't mind a smidge of obsolescence, 'imperscrutable' (adj.) or 'imperscrutableness' (n.) might work for you:

adjective: Not to be searched out; unsearchable, inscrutable, or
noun: unsearchableness, inscrutableness.

["† imperˈscrutable, adj.". OED Online. September 2015. Oxford University Press. http://www.oed.com/view/Entry/92319 (accessed November 03, 2015).]

If, on the other hand, you want some common coin, then 'inscrutable' (adj.), might be the ticket:

That cannot be searched into or found out by searching; impenetrable or unfathomable to investigation; quite unintelligible, entirely mysterious.

["inscrutable, adj. and n.". OED Online. September 2015. Oxford University Press. http://www.oed.com/view/Entry/96667 (accessed November 03, 2015).]

Also possible is 'inscrutability' (n.):

The quality of being inscrutable; transf. something inscrutable.

["inscrutability, n.". OED Online. September 2015. Oxford University Press. http://www.oed.com/view/Entry/96666 (accessed November 03, 2015).]

Other words along the same lines that you might find useful include

unsearchableness = That cannot be searched into, so as to be ascertained or exactly estimated; inscrutable.

unconceivableness = inconceivable.

impenetrability = The quality or condition of being impenetrable; incapability of being penetrated, entered, or pierced; inscrutability; unfathomableness; ‘unsusceptibility of intellectual impression’.

(All from OED Online.)


"elusive" does not seem too bad.

WordNet has

  adj 1: difficult to describe; "a haunting elusive odor"
  2: skillful at eluding capture; "a cabal of conspirators, each
     more elusive than the archterrorist"- David Kline
  3: difficult to detect or grasp by the mind or analyze; "his
     whole attitude had undergone a subtle change"; "a subtle
     difference"; "that elusive thing the soul" [syn: {elusive},
  4: making great mental demands; hard to comprehend or solve or
     believe; "a baffling problem"; "I faced the knotty problem of
     what to have for breakfast"; "a problematic situation at
     home" [syn: {baffling}, {elusive}, {knotty}, {problematic},
     {problematical}, {tough}]

and the first 3 meanings seem not too far off. If more than a single word is allowed, I'd probably go for "defying description".

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