Is there a word that describes a concept which loses its power when put into words?

EDIT: For example, the context could be a philosophical (or pseudo-philosophical) idea like "zen" attitude. When a monk can not tell his pupil directly how to achieve enlightenment because the idea is _____.

  • 3
    What's the context you'd like to use this in?
    – ralph.m
    Dec 1, 2015 at 21:51
  • The unspeakable or the ineffable ?
    – Graffito
    Dec 1, 2015 at 21:53
  • indescribable?
    – Jim
    Dec 1, 2015 at 22:01
  • quantum mechanics?
    – Ricky
    Dec 1, 2015 at 22:01
  • wordlessness.
    – Jim
    Dec 1, 2015 at 22:02

2 Answers 2


Example: "Meditation is not what you think." https://yogainternational.com/article/view/meditation-is-not-what-you-think

The word for this, which Graffito suggested yesterday, is "ineffable." It is quite profound once you settle into it. http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/ineffable


Sounds like a form of the observer effect

In science, the term observer effect refers to changes that the act of observation will make on a phenomenon being observed. This is often the result of instruments that, by necessity, alter the state of what they measure in some manner. A commonplace example is checking the pressure in an automobile tire; this is difficult to do without letting out some of the air, thus changing the pressure.


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