What does ‘ineludible’ mean?

Reading time: Less than 1 minute

Increase your vocabulary and you’ll make your writing much more precise. That’s why I provide a word of the week. Today’s word: ineludible…

I often like first novels because, while sometimes flawed,  they often display an edge or a nerve that’s sometimes missing from more carefully-crafted second novels. My instincts (prejudices?) were recently borne out by Lisa Halliday‘s impressive and best-selling first novel, Asymmetry.

I’ll be blogging about the book’s story in a future post. Today, let me just say that in addition to giving me several hours of reading pleasure, the book also gave me my word of the week, ineludible. Here is how Halliday used it:

Another block up, the neon harp outside the Dublin House appeared drained of all its color, and heat that was only average began to feel, under these mysterious circumstance, extraordinary: seeping and sinister and ineludible, like gas filling a cell.

The word, which was new to me, means unavoidable or inescapable (like the process of sand, racing through an hourglass that has been turned over — as in the photo at the top of this post.)

As soon as I explored the etymology of the term, however, I felt like a fool. Of course the root term elude is blindingly obvious. And I already knew that meant to evade or escape — so ineludible must mean the opposite.

The origin of the word dates back to the 1530s,  from the Latin eludere meaning “to finish play, win at play; escape from or parry (a blow), make a fool of, mock, frustrate; win from at play.” The sense of “evade” was first recorded 1610s in a figurative sense and in the 1630s in a literal one. The word ludicrous — meaning foolish, unreasonable, or so out of place as to be amusing — comes from the same root.

Use of the word ineludible, however, is rare. It is in the lower 50% of commonly used words in the Collins dictionary and usage appeared to peak in 1926.

An earlier version of this post first appeared on my blog on Jan. 9/19.

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