I'm looking for a word that fits this quote from the Sun Also Rises (without context; I don't remember the context): "You'll lose it, if you talk about it"

I'm having difficulty creating an example sentence, but perhaps something like this: "Don't say this is beautiful because you will spoil it by ___"

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    I'm not sure there's a verb in existence that means that. Sep 2, 2019 at 4:17
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    I know of a saying which says: when you try to define something (like beaty/love etc.) it can only spoil it.
    – user 66974
    Sep 2, 2019 at 4:45
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    Tolkien goes the whole hog with the analysis metaphor: "One who breaks a thing to find out what it is has left the path of reason.” [Gandalf to Saruman; LOTR] Sep 2, 2019 at 18:36

4 Answers 4


I would say "Don't say this is beautiful because you will spoil it by exposing it".


2a : to make known : bring to light

b : to exhibit for public veneration

PS You might also look at the notion of kennings. Unfortunately, I can't find the source right now, but I read somewhere that the point of kennings (that is, referring to a certain notion using a mild metaphor) was exactly not to let its features fade away by exposing them too much; if you call gold "gold" a hundred times, it will lose its shine, so a skald will always call gold "dragon's pillow" or something like that.


Maybe "jinx" could work -


: a person or thing that brings bad luck.

"One was never to wish luck to someone going hunting or fishing, as it was seen as a jinx."

"Don't say this is beautiful because you will spoil it by jinxing it."

(From Oxford)


The single word that comes closest to what you describe is define:

1 a : to determine or identify the essential qualities or meaning of
// whatever defines us as human

The sentence in the question would turn into the following:

"Don't say this is beautiful because you will spoil it by defining it."

In other words:

If you try to put a name to something that is indescribable, you will ruin the experience of just appreciating it for what it is. Don't think about it, simply feel it.


I'll throw in vote for despoil:

  • to strip of belongings, possessions, or value

This would mean rewording your sentence a bit, perhaps like:

"Don't say this is beautiful because you will despoil it."

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