incomprehensible - unintelligible - ununderstandable(?)

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LV4-26

Senior Member
Good morning foreras and -ros,

A few questions about those words.

1. Does the latter, ununderstandable (?) exist? I don't think so. You can see it used here and there on the Internet but that is no evidence of its existence, is it?
Also, the Free Online dictionary has no entry for ununderstandable but does have one for ununderstandably. I find that strange.

2. The first two have, I think, a slightly different meaning. Unintelligible is restricted to things that you can't make out, i.e. properly hear or read. I mean it's more a matter of perception than one of actual understanding. Is that right?

3. I see that both incomprehensible and uncomprehensible seem to exist. Whereas only unintelligible is used. Can you confirm?
(I always have a problem with my "ins and uns" in English :). Do natives have it as well?).
 
  • Thomas1

    Senior Member
    polszczyzna warszawska
    Good morning foreras and -ros,

    A few questions about those words.

    1. Does the latter, ununderstandable (?) exist? I don't think so. You can see it used here and there on the Internet but that is no evidence of its existence, is it?
    Also, the Free Online dictionary has no entry for ununderstandable but does have one for ununderstandably. I find that strange.

    [...]
    Bonjour LV4-26, :)


    I also shared your opinion concerning ununderstandable untill I found this at merriam-webseter.com:
    un·un·der·stand·able

    Source.
    Never say never. :) Anyway, I had never:p seen it used in literature untill I did this quick search.


    Tom
     

    SPQR

    Senior Member
    US
    American English
    1. Does the latter, ununderstandable (?) exist? I don't think so. You can see it used here and there on the Internet but that is no evidence of its existence, is it?
    It exists, but is rarely used. Stick with "not understandable".

    Also, the Free Online dictionary has no entry for ununderstandable but does have one for ununderstandably. I find that strange.
    I agree. But though a word exists, it may have little utility in modern usage.

    2. The first two have, I think, a slightly different meaning. Unintelligible is restricted to things that you can't make out, i.e. properly hear or read. I mean it's more a matter of perception than one of actual understanding. Is that right?
    Correct.
    Incomprehensible is more often used for text/speech that can be heard and read perfectly, but is written/said in such a poor way that it cannot be understood.
    Unintelligible might be used for a radio broadcast which has noise interference and thus could not be understood.
    BUT, I can think of instances in which they could be used as synonyms.


    3. I see that both incomprehensible and uncomprehensible seem to exist. Whereas only unintelligible is used. Can you confirm?
    Confirmed.

    (I always have a problem with my "ins and uns" in English :). Do natives have it as well?).
    Occasionally.
    You get "used" to hearing only one or two words used in a particular context and then you hear a "new" word that sounds funny. You look it up and find that it does exist. This happens all the time to me with AE/BE - boot=trunk, windscreen=windshield and many more. I'm sure it occurs with you in your primary language.
     

    Vikorr

    Senior Member
    Australia, English
    It may be another case of AE/BE here.

    I've never heard the word 'uncomprehensible', but certainly 'incomprehensible'. Neither the Oxford online or Cambridge online dictionaries have an entry for the 'un' version.

    I've also never heard 'ununderstable'. I've never actually heard a negative version of understandable, but I'm fairly sure non would be used if such a word were to exist (though I can't think of why non springs to mind...I've long forgotten the rules for why in, un, and non were used)
     
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