A common phrase is "I can't tell you how much I X", or "Words can't express how much I X" as a way of expressing the speaker's significant feelings towards X.

This phrase implies that the speaker feels that language cannot do their feelings justice. There should be a simpler way of conveying this concept, instead of saying "I can't express myself."

Is there a word that describes the situation when the speaker cannot adequately express their feelings, except by noting that they cannot adequately express their feelings? The closest word I can think of is "ineffable," however, "ineffable" fails to capture the concept that the only way to express the speaker's feelings (or their extent) is by stating their ineffability.

Example usage in a sentence:

Person A: "You saved my life. My gratitude is xxxxx"

  • 2
    Try beyond words.
    – KarlG
    Commented May 16, 2018 at 0:32
  • The premise is not true. One can always find something to say. "You saved my life. Thank you." To say my gratitude cannot be expressed is insincere. Yes it can be expressed. By expressing it.
    – Nigel J
    Commented May 16, 2018 at 0:39

2 Answers 2


"words fail me" is an idiom and may be what you're looking for.

  • "You saved my life. I'd like to express my gratitude but words fail me."

words fail me

  • I'm unable to articulate or express myself because I'm too surprised, upset, or intensely emotional.
  • I can't put my thoughts or feelings into words, especially because of surprise or shock.

Example sentences:

When she showed up at the wedding with all three ex-husbands-well, words fail me."

I wish I could convey how much it means to me having you all here, but words fail me at the moment.


To tell you the truth, as I read your question the word 'ineffable' came to mind immediately, but at the end you disposed of the word for its apparent lack of power in expression.

The word itself is exactly what you initially described; it means something is too intense or extreme to describe with words. Inexpressible is synonymous, but I can imagine that it too does not have that punch you may be seeking. My suggestion here is, these two words are exactly what you're seeking, but they are unfortunately lacking in a certain power that truly expresses how inexpressible your current state is.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.