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The word incredulous is usually used to describe a person's unwillingness/inability to believe. But I would also like to use it to describe an idea's inability to be believed. For example, instead of saying

I am unable accept this idea, not because of its technicality or abstraction, but rather my incredulity towards this idea.

I would like to say

I am unable accept this idea, not because of its technicality or abstraction, but rather its incredulity.

I know the word "unbelievability" exists, but I like the hyperbolic feel of "incredulity" more. To my ears, this sentence does not sound bad at all. Has anyone heard this usage before? Are there other natural ways of phrasing my sentence, i.e. other words that could be used that keep the sentence's meaning/tone?

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    Doesn't sound right to give that much agency to an idea. Is it hard for you to believe the idea (yes), or does the idea have a hard time here believing (skeptical) or being believed (no)? Is your sentence looking for incredible? Apr 9, 2023 at 18:46
  • I would rather use "implausibility".
    – Graffito
    Apr 9, 2023 at 18:56
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    No. Incredulous describes a human emotional characteristic. The term for something that makes everybody incredulous is incredible. That is just the Latin for unbelievable, whereas incredulous is the Latin for unbelieving. They don't mean the same, either. Apr 9, 2023 at 19:13
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    Absurdity is an alternative, particularly in translating the Latin absurdus.
    – Stuart F
    Apr 9, 2023 at 22:32

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Has anyone heard this usage before?

Yes, but it is often considered incorrect. The more common meaning of "incredulity" is as you've used it in the first example sentence. Of the use of "incredulity" to mean "unbelievability" (which I think is a relatively rare word), Merriam-Webster says:

Sense 3 was revived in the 20th century after a couple of centuries of disuse. Although it is a sense with good literary precedent—among others Shakespeare used it—it is widely regarded as an error resulting from confusion with incredible, and its occurrence in published writing is rare.


Are there other natural ways of phrasing my sentence, i.e. other words that could be used that keep the sentence's meaning/tone?

Yes, a more common word is "incredibility":

I am unable accept this idea, not because of its technicality or abstraction, but rather its incredibility.

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