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Undefinable   Listen
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Undefinable  adj.  See definable.






Collaborative International Dictionary of English 0.48








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"Undefinable" Quotes from Famous Books



... principles of self-love and benevolence when it arises, is reduced in favour of the second by the intervention of the moral sense, which does not hold out future rewards and pleasures of self-approbation, but decides for the generous part by 'an immediate undefinable perception.' So at least, if human nature were properly cultivated, although it is true that in common life men are wont to follow their particular affections, generous and selfish, without thought of extensive benevolence or calm self-love; ...
— Moral Science; A Compendium of Ethics • Alexander Bain

... I heard the distant strains of the organ, a sad harmony to an undefinable chant, the wail of a soul longing to break these earthly bonds. I listened with every sense, scarcely breathing; plunged, like Captain Nemo, in that musical ecstasy, which was drawing him in spirit to ...
— Twenty Thousand Leagues under the Sea • Jules Verne

... yet defined itself in your mind with sufficient sharpness. You feel something and have not been able to express the feeling—only because you do not yet quite know what it is. We feel without understanding feeling; and our most powerful emotions are the most undefinable. This must be so, because they are inherited accumulations of feeling, and the multiplicity of them—superimposed one over another—blurs them, and makes them dim, even though enormously increasing their strength.... Unconscious brain work is the best to develop such latent feeling or ...
— The Romance of the Milky Way - And Other Studies & Stories • Lafcadio Hearn

... him, and acknowledged to myself the truth of his prediction, that there was one share in my soul which nothing could ever rob him of, and that was that undefinable communion of thought and feeling, which an extraordinary fatality of circumstances, and a natural congeniality of mind, had ...
— Ellen Middleton—A Tale • Georgiana Fullerton

... came its little heralds sweeping across the face of night. First came a little motion of cold air—it was dead-still before; then an undefinable freshness; then a very slight but rather grateful smell from the soil of the conscious earth. Next twittered from the bush one little ...
— It Is Never Too Late to Mend • Charles Reade

... eyes a misty blue, his big nose marked like a network of veins, his hands glazed and reddened, like his face, by wind and weather; standing, even under his mayoral robes, like a jockey. Of course he had the undefinable air of breeding; no one could have mistaken his class. But he was an undistinguished, very ordinary looking little man; and indeed he had done nothing for the past half century to distinguish himself above his fellows. There ...
— The Red Planet • William J. Locke

... that, if it were possible to have all the phenomena of the past presented to us, the convenient epochs and formations of the geologist, though having a certain distinctness, would fade into one another with limits as undefinable as those of the distinct and yet separable colours of the ...
— Darwiniana • Thomas Henry Huxley

... to say "With Aline Joyeuse," but a feeling of restraint stopped him, an undefinable sentiment, a sense of shame at pronouncing her name in the studio which had heard so many others. There are things that do not go together, one scarcely knows why. Paul preferred to reply with a falsehood, which brought him at once to the object ...
— The Nabob • Alphonse Daudet

... a want, and even develop an unconscious appetency, but it can not, itself, reveal an object, any more than the feeling of hunger can reveal the actual presence, or determine the character and fitness, of any food. An undefinable fear, a mysterious presentiment, an instinctive yearning, a hunger of the soul, these are all irrational emotions which can never rise to the dignity of knowledge. An object must be conjured by the imagination, or conceived by the understanding, ...
— Christianity and Greek Philosophy • Benjamin Franklin Cocker

... considerable distance, others apparently close at hand; some obviously from the land to the rear of the party, and others quite as obviously from the water in their front. And, most disturbing consideration of all, every one of them was absolutely unfamiliar, therefore in some vague, undefinable fashion, the more alarming. This effect was quickly made manifest by the agitated murmurings of the Indians, and the haste with which they replenished the dying fire, heaping on fuel with such a lavish hand that, for the space of a few ...
— In Search of El Dorado • Harry Collingwood

... the sorrel, the buttercups, all making at a distance a wonderful blent effect of luminous brown and lilac and russet foamed with white; and forming, when you look close into it, an unlimited forest of delicately separate stems and bloom and seed; every plant detaching itself daintily from an undefinable background of things like itself. This winter turns into a rusty brown and green expanse, or into a bog, or a field of frozen upturned clods. The very trees, stripped of their leaves, look as if prepared for diagrams of the abstraction tree. Everything, in short, is reduced most philosophically ...
— Euphorion - Being Studies of the Antique and the Mediaeval in the - Renaissance - Vol. I • Vernon Lee

... there on the landing Guest hesitated for a moment or two, an undefinable feeling of dread having attacked him; there was a curious ringing in the ears, and his heart ...
— Witness to the Deed • George Manville Fenn

... back, so I can pass any order that may come," proposed Hal, who, truth to tell, felt an undefinable something that made him too restless to like the idea ...
— The Submarine Boys on Duty - Life of a Diving Torpedo Boat • Victor G. Durham

... old-fashioned French men-of-war with high castles, like pagodas, on the bow and stern, such as you see in Froissart; and snug little turrets on top of the mast, full of little men, with something undefinable in their hands. All three were sailing through a bright-blue sea, blue as Sicily skies; and they were leaning over on their sides at a fearful angle; and they must have been going very fast, for the white spray was about the ...
— Redburn. His First Voyage • Herman Melville

... exhausted soldiers slept, even while the guns of the enemy roared in front of them, and during the brief halts which the confusion in the road caused, there was no real repose. The excitement of the battle and the retreat, and the undefinable sense of insecurity which their situation engendered, banished rest. Tired Nature asserted her claims, and the men yielded to them only when endurance had reached ...
— The Young Lieutenant - or, The Adventures of an Army Officer • Oliver Optic

... Establishment is in itself a lesson of religious moderation, and a help towards [xxiii] culture and harmonious perfection. Instead of battling for his own private forms for expressing the inexpressible and defining the undefinable, a man takes those which have commended themselves most to the religious life of his nation; and while he may be sure that within those forms the religious side of his own nature may find its satisfaction, he ...
— Culture and Anarchy • Matthew Arnold

... seemed to pale and to whiten, and that was all. There was no sunrise. It merely seemed as if all of Nature—very gradually—was soaking itself full of some light; it was dim at first, but never grey; and then it became the whitest, the clearest, the most undefinable light. There were no shadows. Under the brush of the wild land which I was skirting by now there seemed to be quite as much of luminosity as overhead. The mist was the thinnest haze, and it seemed ...
— Over Prairie Trails • Frederick Philip Grove

... the letter lying on the table. It had raised in her mind, not a doubt, but an undefined, undefinable anxiety. He saw the glance, and said: "I was writing to one who has been as a sister to me. She was my mother's sister though she is almost as young as I. Her name is Faith. There is nothing there of what concerns thee and me, though ...
— The Judgment House • Gilbert Parker

... although it had two windows, one to the street, and one to the garden behind: both ceiling and floor were of a dark brown, for the beams and boards of the one were old and interpenetrated with smoke, and the other was of hard-beaten clay, into which also was wrought much smoke and an undefinable blackness, while the windows were occupied with different plants favoured of Grannie, so that little light could get in, and that little was half-swallowed by the general brownness. A tall eight-day clock stood in one corner, up to which, whoever would learn from it the time, had to advance ...
— Warlock o' Glenwarlock • George MacDonald

... some little undefinable coolness between old General Chattesworth and Devereux. He admired the young fellow, and he liked good blood in his corps, but somehow he was glad when he thought he was likely to go. When old Bligh, of the Magazine, commended the handsome young dog's ...
— The House by the Church-Yard • J. Sheridan Le Fanu

... There is an undefinable quantity in military genius which makes the event uncertain. At the beginning the emperor had written that Frederic's secret had been discovered, and consisted in what was called the oblique order—that ...
— Lectures on Modern history • Baron John Emerich Edward Dalberg Acton

... it was not so much what we saw or heard (in which you might fairly suppose that we were the dupes of our own excited fancy, or the victims of imposture in others) that drove us away, as it was an undefinable terror which seized both of us whenever we passed by the door of a certain unfurnished room, in which we neither saw nor heard anything. And the strangest marvel of all was, that for once in my life I agreed with my wife, silly woman though she be,—and allowed, after the third night, that ...
— Haunted and the Haunters • Edward Bulwer Lytton

... instrument that has no value in itself. Whatever credit it receives, whatever reverence we give it, is derived from its utility in ministering to those concrete experiences which are as obvious and as undefinable as color or sound. We can celebrate the positively good things, we can live them, we can create them, but we cannot philosophize about them. To the anaesthetic intellect we could not convey the meaning of joy. A creature that could reason but not feel would never ...
— A Preface to Politics • Walter Lippmann

... In some undefinable way she had become aware, without turning her head, that he was steeped in the sense of her nearness, absorbed in contemplating the details of her face and dress; and the discovery made the words throng to her ...
— The Reef • Edith Wharton

... me? Full in my rear they came on, baying like hounds on their game. Yillah trembled at their cries. My own heart beat hard with undefinable dread. The corpse of Aleema seemed floating before: its avengers ...
— Mardi: and A Voyage Thither, Vol. I (of 2) • Herman Melville

... sages, whose thoughts were profound, saluted them all with reverence and gave them a comprehensive answer, saying: Be it heard! This universe existed only in the first divine idea yet unexpanded, as if involved in darkness, imperceptible, undefinable, undiscoverable by reason, and undiscovered by revelation, as if it were wholly immersed in sleep; then the sole, self-existing power, himself undiscovered, but making this world discernible, with five elements and other principles of nature, appeared with ...
— The Christian Foundation, February, 1880

... learning, I have much respect, but as to their dry treatises on logic, immaterial dissertations on materiality, and abstruse investigations of useless subjects, they are mere literary legerdemain. Their disputations being usually built on an undefinable chimera, are solved by a paradox. Instead of exercising their power of reason they exert their powers of sophistry, and divide and subdivide every subject with such casuistical minuteness, that those who are not convinced, are almost invariably confounded. ...
— The Works of William Hogarth: In a Series of Engravings - With Descriptions, and a Comment on Their Moral Tendency • John Trusler

... upon her hand; recalling the scattered fragments of the sonorous verses, and wondering why it was that, when each line had seemed so perfect in itself, and every thought so pure and noble in its purport and conception, the whole should have left upon her mind such an undefinable impress ...
— The Continental Monthly, Vol. 6, No 2, August, 1864 - Devoted to Literature and National Policy • Various

... to be conscience hardly aware of itself as such. It is "the sense of some unexplored evil ever dogging his footsteps," which reached its keenest poignancy in a constitutional horror of serpents, but which is a very subtle and undefinable thing, observable rather as an undertone to his consciousness of life than as anything tangible enough to be defined or accounted for by particular causes. On the journey to Rome, the vague misgivings took ...
— Among Famous Books • John Kelman

... by reputation, expected to find in him a kind of scrivener, good-natured or ridiculous, the viscount figuring to himself always that men of proverbial probity must be simpletons. Far from this, the other's looks imposed on the viscount an undefinable feeling, half fear, half hatred, although he had no serious reason to fear or hate him. Thus, in consequence of his resolute character, Saint Remy increased his insolence and habitual foppery of manner. The notary kept his cap upon his head; the viscount retained his hat, and cried from ...
— The Mysteries of Paris V2 • Eugene Sue

... am well enough," replied Malcolm hurriedly. "If we come to that, you have rather a weedy appearance yourself;" for Cedric looked decidedly thinner, and his eyes were almost unnaturally bright. He seemed older, too, and changed in some undefinable way; but he had never looked handsomer. Malcolm forgot his own troubles in his anxiety to prevent his protege falling into the hands of the adventurer, Saul Jacobi. For the moment his own soul seemed to yearn over the boy who was his sisters' ...
— Herb of Grace • Rosa Nouchette Carey

... moved slowly at last, as if he would speak; and Maggie, bending low to catch the faintest sound, heard him utter the name of "Rose." In Maggie's bosom there was no feeling for the stranger save that of pity, and yet that one word "Rose" thrilled her with a strange undefinable emotion, awaking at once a yearning desire to know something of her who bore that beautiful name, and who to the young man was undoubtedly the one in ...
— Maggie Miller • Mary J. Holmes

... of conditions, which cannot be methodically proved for want of a precise principle by which they may be tested; and they, therefore, depend upon Immethodical Induction, that is, upon the examination of as many instances as can be found, relying for the rest upon the undefinable principle of the Uniformity of Nature, since we are not able to connect them with any of its definite modes enumerated in chap. xiii. Sec. 7. To this subject we shall return in chap. xix., after treating of Methodical Induction, or the means of determining that a relation ...
— Logic - Deductive and Inductive • Carveth Read

... pointing towards all the thirty-two azimuths at once, as the magnet-needle does when thunderstorm is in the air! If the Insurrection come? If it come, and fail? Alas, in that case, may not black Courtiers, with blunderbusses, red Swiss with bayonets rush over, flushed with victory, and ask us: Thou undefinable, waterlogged, self-distractive, self-destructive Legislative, what dost thou here unsunk?—Or figure the poor National Guards, bivouacking 'in temporary tents' there; or standing ranked, shifting from leg to leg, all through the weary night; New tricolor Municipals ordering one thing, old Mandat ...
— The French Revolution • Thomas Carlyle

... natural place in the museum named from the great sculptor whose genius had flung into the clay the features of a character so unlike his own. The bust, says the Danish critic, at first sight impresses one with an undefinable classic grace; on closer examination the restlessness of a life is reflected in a brow over which clouds seem to hover, but clouds from which we look for lightnings. The dominant impression of the whole is that of some irresistible power (Unwiderstehlichkeit). Thorwaldsen, at a much later ...
— Byron • John Nichol

... greatly diminished, and have been transferred in effect to the Houses of Parliament, or rather to the House of Commons, and the Ministers taken from the Houses are in fact, though not in name, servants of Parliament. This arrangement leaves an undefined and undefinable amount of authority to the Crown. It is not an arrangement which any man would have planned beforehand; but it is kept up, not because it is an anomaly, but because it has, as a matter of experience, turned out convenient. ...
— A Leap in the Dark - A Criticism of the Principles of Home Rule as Illustrated by the - Bill of 1893 • A.V. Dicey

... of clouds streams across the awful sky, and the rain sweeps almost parallel with the horizon. Beyond, the heath stretches off into endless blackness, in the extreme of which either fancy or art has conjured up some undefinable shapes that seem riding into space. At the base of the huge oak stands a shrouded figure. His mantle is wound by the blast in tight folds around his form, and the long cock's feather in his hat is blown upright, till it seems as if it stood on ...
— Masterpieces of Mystery - Riddle Stories • Various

... rage is rare, and anyway the characteristics are so significant that a mistake in recognition can hardly be made. Darwin says that the conviction of one's own guilt is from time to time expressed through a sparkling of the eyes, and through an undefinable affectation. The last is well known to every penologist and explicable in general psychological terms. Whoever knows himself to be guiltless behaves according to his condition, naturally and without constraint: ...
— Robin Hood • J. Walker McSpadden

... moment I came to myself, to an undefinable sense of the tremendous pressure of nothingness. Darkness! it was not that; yet it was as little light. It was as if we lay in a dim, luminous chaos, ourselves an integral part of its self-containment. I did not stir; but I spoke: and my strange voice broke the enchantment. ...
— At a Winter's Fire • Bernard Edward J. Capes

... together sitting in the balcony. They had been alone together before many times since their travels had commenced; but they both of them felt that there was something to them in the present moment different from any other period of their journey. There was something that each felt to be sweet, undefinable, and dangerous. Alice had known that it would be better for her to go up-stairs with Kate; but Kate's answer had been of such a nature that had she gone she would have shown that she had some special reason for ...
— Can You Forgive Her? • Anthony Trollope

... the Institutes of Menu will convey the Oriental conclusion: "This universe existed only in the first divine idea, yet unexpanded, as if involved in darkness; imperceptible, undefinable, undiscoverable by reason, and undiscovered by revelation, as if it were wholly immersed in sleep. Then the sole self-existing power, himself undiscerned, but making this world discernible, with five elements and other principles ...
— History of the Intellectual Development of Europe, Volume I (of 2) - Revised Edition • John William Draper

... Poiret, don't you see it is clear that the government clerk comes to a final end at the head of a division? Now that question once settled, there is no longer any uncertainty; the government clerk who has hitherto seemed undefinable is defined." ...
— Bureaucracy • Honore de Balzac

... kind. If you are satisfied that this sentiment exists on his part, you are to inquire whether you can exercise it towards him. For, with many persons of great worth, whom we highly esteem, there is often wanting a certain undefinable combination of qualities, not improperly termed the soul of character; which alone seems to call out the exercise of that peculiar sentiment of which we are speaking. But I seriously charge you never to form a connection which is not based upon this principle; and that, ...
— A Practical Directory for Young Christian Females - Being a Series of Letters from a Brother to a Younger Sister • Harvey Newcomb

... with fonder attention on each beauty of the lovely sleeper. Besides the consciousness of so gentle, so helpless and so heavenly a form, sleeping in innocent security, confiding in the protection of man, and that very helplessness of her nature, awakens a sentiment of sympathy and tenderness, as undefinable as it is thrilling and transporting. And such was the sleep of Theodora: she was young and replete with charms, and, alas! but too helpless and in need of protection. Her beauteous form was displayed to the greatest advantage; the sportive breeze now playing amidst ...
— Gomez Arias - The Moors of the Alpujarras, A Spanish Historical Romance. • Joaquin Telesforo de Trueba y Cosio

... discordant shriek as of a dozen voices on different keys uttering cries of terror and despair. There was the confusion of one person falling over another; there was the wild grasping for support, the seizing of each other's garments and arms, the undefined and undefinable struggle of the first desperate minute after a boat has capsized, the scream that dies to a gurgle in the water and then breaks out afresh, louder and sharper than before, and then is suddenly smothered into a ...
— The Mystery of Metropolisville • Edward Eggleston

... which the seer in the Apocalypse felt when he said, "And immediately I was in the spirit". The truth is we have been led into the invisible world, we have gained with the poet "a sense of God". The strange, undefinable attraction of the ...
— Morality as a Religion - An exposition of some first principles • W. R. Washington Sullivan

... an agreeable odor; some contain asphalt in large quantity, others paraffine, etc. Thus they form a heterogeneous assemblage of liquid hydrocarbons, of which naphtha and maltha may be said to form the extremes, and which have little in common, except their undefinable name. The causes of these differences are but imperfectly understood, but we know that they are in part dependent on the nature of the organic material that has furnished the petroleums, and in part upon influences affecting them after their formation. For example, ...
— Scientific American Supplement, No. 362, December 9, 1882 • Various

... struck the false note at the very start, and before any of us guessed or knew anything at all. Something moved secretly between his words, a shadow veiling the stars, destroying the peace of our little camp, and touching us all personally with an undefinable sense of ...
— The Empty House And Other Ghost Stories • Algernon Blackwood

... of the Church, as Christ's own kingdom, I demanded reality and could not digest legal fictions. I saw round me what sort of young men were preparing to be clergymen: I knew the attractions of family "livings" and fellowships, and of a respectable position and undefinable hopes of preferment. I farther knew, that when youths had become clergymen through a great variety of mixed motives, bishops were selected out of these clergy on avowedly political grounds; it therefore amazed me how a man of good sense should be able ...
— Phases of Faith - Passages from the History of My Creed • Francis William Newman

... poem beyond the inherent fitness and desirability of the tale. It is just such a story as a man would make up for himself, walking, in the best health and temper, through just such scenes as it is laid in. Hence it is that a charm dwells undefinable among these slovenly verses, as the unseen cuckoo fills the mountains with his note; hence, even after we have flung the book aside, the scenery and adventures remain present to the mind, a new and ...
— Memories and Portraits • Robert Louis Stevenson

... long he had been asleep, when he started up in bed with an undefinable impression that something was wrong. He sat rubbing his eyes, and but half awake—a confused sound, he knew not what, fell upon his ear; it seemed as if some dreadful strife was going on outside his window, something seemed in a ...
— Leslie Ross: - or, Fond of a Lark • Charles Bruce

... with thought and anxiety. But this time he was not acting a part. In spite, or rather by reason of, the full explanation that had been given him, he found something suspicious and mysterious in the whole affair. A thousand vague and undefinable suspicions crossed his mind. Was he in presence of a crime? Certainly, evidently not. But what was the cause then of the mystery and reticence he detected? Was he upon the track of some lamentable family secret—one of those terrible scandals, concealed for a long time, but which ...
— The Count's Millions - Volume 1 (of 2) • Emile Gaboriau

... herself, and there was something on its brow which proclaimed it to be fiercer and bolder, formed to wrestle with rough winds, and to laugh at the coming tempests. For the first time since she was, she turned away to tremble, her soul filled with a new and undefinable feeling, for which she could not account. After shading her eyes a moment from the vision, she looked again, and though her trembling increased, and her brain became giddy, she did not wish the being away, nor did she motion it to go. Why should ...
— Traditions of the North American Indians, Vol. 1 (of 3) • James Athearn Jones

... place them all in order, rank on rank? Language is weak to tell the heart's deep, wrongs. We think, and muse, and in our endless thought We strive to grasp, with all the mind's vast strength, The undefinable extent of spirit grief, And fail ...
— Town and Country, or, Life at Home and Abroad • John S. Adams

... that an accident of which I need not remind you, my beloved Helen, introduced me to the acquaintance of your family. You may remember the backwardness with which I first received their approaches; the very name of Percy had become ominously painful to me, and yet it inspired me with a strange and undefinable interest. A spell appeared to attract me towards you, and in spite of my first resolution to the contrary, in spite of the melancholy reserve that still dwelt upon my mind, I became an acquaintance, and at length ...
— Theresa Marchmont • Mrs Charles Gore

... coward, but an undefinable sense of uneasiness was stealing over her. The Priory was fully half an hour's walk from the Lodge, which was the nearest house. Still further off, in the opposite direction, stood a large building, the nature of which they had not ...
— Fifty-Two Stories For Girls • Various

... Douw at length found breath and collectedness to bid him welcome, and with a mute inclination of the head, the stranger stepped forward into the room. There was something indescribably odd, even horrible, about all his motions, something undefinable, that was unnatural, unhuman; it was as if the limbs were guided and directed by a spirit unused to the management of bodily machinery. The stranger spoke hardly at all during his visit, which did not exceed half an hour; and the host himself could scarcely muster courage enough to utter ...
— J. S. Le Fanu's Ghostly Tales, Volume 1 • Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu

... single quality or power is not enough to arouse my enthusiasm. It is possible that no master ever painted a buttercup like this one, or the fringe of a robe like that one; that this poet has a unique subtlety, and that an undefinable music. I am still unconvinced, tho the man who can not see it, we are told, should at once retire to the place where there is ...
— The Best of the World's Classics, Restricted to Prose, Vol. VI (of X)—Great Britain and Ireland IV • Various

... evil fell upon the woman's soul. It was like a heavy nightmare weight that might only be felt, not seen, and could not be shaken off. But the Countess de Mattos had experienced this undefinable misery before, when the reaction came after taking too large a dose of chlorodyne with her "solace." She hoped that it was merely this now—that it was no real warning of trouble or ...
— The Castle Of The Shadows • Alice Muriel Williamson

... a conference in the recess of a window. We three remained seated round the table from which the dark maid was removing the cups and the plates with brusque movements. I gazed frankly at Dona Rita's profile, irregular, animated, and fascinating in an undefinable way, at her well-shaped head with the hair twisted high up and apparently held in its place by a gold arrow with a jewelled shaft. We couldn't hear what she said, but the movement of her lips and the play of her features ...
— The Arrow of Gold - a story between two notes • Joseph Conrad

... was the impression upon my mind, that impression was intense both in kind and in degree. That short last talk at his bedside, in which so little was said, so much felt by both of us, has never left my memory. If for no other reason, it must be recorded here for it had, I feel, an essential if undefinable influence upon ...
— The Adventure of Living • John St. Loe Strachey

... of material particles can act as a bridge by which we can cross over into the domain of intelligence.... What imaginable link is there between certain movements of certain molecules in my brain, on the one hand, and on the other hand primitive, undefinable, undeniable facts such as: I have the sensation of softness, I smell the odour of a rose, I hear the sound of an organ, I see ...
— The Mind and the Brain - Being the Authorised Translation of L'me et le Corps • Alfred Binet

... as they successively appeared, for three hundred and fifty years; though shown to be romances, they will continue to be read as Robinson Crusoe is read, not because they are true, but because they are pleasing. The psychological revelation is the eager, undefinable interest aroused by any picture of ancient society. It is felt by every stranger when he first walks the streets of Pompeii, and, standing within the walls of its roofless houses, strives to picture to himself the life and the society which flourished there ...
— Houses and House-Life of the American Aborigines • Lewis H. Morgan

... of Allan Cameron bounded and fluttered in his breast, as he advanced to salute this beautiful mountain-nymph. He had braved, undaunted, the brow of man when darkened with the frown of deadly hostility, but he shrank with a new and undefinable tremor before the blushing smile of a youthful maiden's cheek and eye. His self-possession seemed for once to have forsaken him; and had Macpherson been acquainted with the human heart, he must have seen that a new and irresistible feeling ...
— Wilson's Tales of the Borders and of Scotland, Volume VI • Various

... furnished him the key to certain secret recesses of human nature hitherto sealed up in darkness. Along that border-line by which the glimmerings of consciousness are, as by the thinnest, yet the most impervious veil, separated from the regions of the unexplored and the undefinable, De Quincey walked familiarly and with privileged eye and ear. Many a nebulous mass of hieroglyphically inscribed meanings did he—this Champollion, defying all human enigmas, this Herschel, or ...
— Atlantic Monthly, Vol. XII. September, 1863, No. LXXI. - A Magazine Of Literature, Art, And Politics • Various

... days at that time he was alarmingly ill from bronchitis, accompanied by unusually high fever. This passed off but slowly. The bodily health and strength appeared to be fully restored at the end of a few weeks, but there was an undefinable change. Shortly after this illness, though not in consequence of it, Dr Burton resigned his office of Prison Manager. He retired on an allowance of two-thirds of his former salary, remaining chairman of the Board of Prisons and Statistics, of which ...
— The Book-Hunter - A New Edition, with a Memoir of the Author • John Hill Burton

... but the most accomplished, and his heart seemed the seat of every graceful feeling. He was the first man for whose society I felt a lively preference. I used to smile at this strange delight, or sometimes weep; for the emotions which agitated me were undefinable, but they were enchanting, and unheedingly I gave them indulgence. The hours which we passed together in the interchange of reciprocal sentiments, the kind beaming of his looks, the thousand sighs that he breathed, ...
— Thaddeus of Warsaw • Jane Porter

... he gradually grew more and more taciturn, until at last he rarely said anything at all. He merely watched her—watched her wherever she went, and whatever she did; and he watched the children—particularly the children—with the same expression, the same undefinable secretive expression that harmonized so well with the shadows and whispers. And it was this treatment—the treatment she now received from her husband—that made Tina appreciate the company of her children. Before, they ...
— Werwolves • Elliott O'Donnell

... her before him, it was neither love nor hate that he felt, but an undefinable and overmastering emotion that seemed to petrify him, so that he stood there quite silent with his ...
— Ladies Must Live • Alice Duer Miller

... answer, but certain it is that she could not be induced to pay me a visit, and I was thus balked of my expected amusement. I succeeded, however, in learning indirectly something about the old witch. She enjoyed among her neighbours that solid, durable kind of respect which is founded on vague, undefinable fear, and was believed to have effected many remarkable cures. In the treatment of syphilitic diseases, which are fearfully common among the Russian peasantry, she was supposed to be specially successful, and I have no doubt, from the vague descriptions ...
— Russia • Donald Mackenzie Wallace

... setting aside the reading altogether. That the course was a real source of intellectual profit to me I cannot doubt, but not in the form of definite information or systemized opinion. The benefit lay in a subtle expansion of the power of appreciation and an undefinable exaltation of the instincts of taste that I have since learned were more precious than any precise increments ...
— Sidney Lanier • Edwin Mims

... trampling horses, the roar of artillery, the rattle of small arms, and the beating of drums to the charge. As these tales of fear, coupled with their own warning, were in everybody's mouth, what wonder if the hearts of the thoughtful sank within them; that they cowered with undefinable dread, as under the shadow of impending disaster; and asked each other with fear and trembling the meaning of this new and dire portent. They had not long ...
— The New England Magazine Volume 1, No. 3, March, 1886 - Bay State Monthly Volume 4, No. 3, March, 1886 • Various

... it the languid mind of the convalescent, almost the heart of a young girl whose tears are ready to flow, though she is smiling a little at her own sad dreams. It seems to me that Strauss must have a secret affection for this work, which owes its inspiration to the undefinable impressions of convalescence. His fever fell asleep in it, and certain passages are full of the caressing touch of nature, and recall Berlioz's Les Troyens. But too often the music is superficial and conventional, and the tyranny of Wagner makes itself felt—a rare enough occurrence ...
— Musicians of To-Day • Romain Rolland

... intercourse between a parent and child which nothing restores. The squire hardly comprehended that there might be a secret. Charlotte was unthoughtful of wrong; but still there was a repression, a something undefinable between them, impalpable, but positive as a breath of polar air. She noticed the mountains, for he made her do so; but the birds sang sleepy songs to her unheeded, and the yellow asphodels made a kind of sunshine at her feet that she never saw; ...
— The Squire of Sandal-Side - A Pastoral Romance • Amelia Edith Huddleston Barr

... in the drawing-room, a few minutes before eight that evening. Philippa was wearing a new black dress, a model of simplicity to the untutored eye, but full of that undefinable appeal to the mysterious which even the greatest artist frequently fails to create out of any form of colour. Some fancy had induced her to strip off her jewels at the last moment, and she ...
— The Zeppelin's Passenger • E. Phillips Oppenheim

... wore their own hair, the beauty of her long, chestnut plaits, which she fastened on the top of her head like a crown, was very striking. Besides this, she was remarkable for her elegant, tasteful dresses, and a bearing which united to the dignity of a lady of rank that undefinable something which makes actresses and women who belong to the higher classes of the demi-monde so interesting ...
— The Works of Guy de Maupassant, Volume IV (of 8) • Guy de Maupassant

... holding, a principality ruled with iron and steam, bullied into a yield of three hundred and fifty thousand bushels, where even when the land was resting, unploughed, unharrowed, and unsown, the wheat came up—troubled her, and even at times filled her with an undefinable terror. To her mind there was something inordinate about it all; something almost unnatural. The direct brutality of ten thousand acres of wheat, nothing but wheat as far as the eye could see, stunned her a little. The one-time writing-teacher of a young ladies' seminary, ...
— The Octopus • Frank Norris

... the houses were excessively ancient. In truth, it was a dream-like and spirit-soothing place, that venerable old town. At this moment, in fancy, I feel the refreshing chilliness of its deeply-shadowed avenues, inhale the fragrance of its thousand shrubberies, and thrill anew with undefinable delight, at the deep hollow note of the church-bell, breaking, each, hour, with sullen and sudden roar, upon the stillness of the dusky atmosphere in which the fretted Gothic steeple lay embedded and asleep. It gives me, perhaps, as ...
— International Miscellany of Literature, Art and Science, Vol. 1, - No. 3, Oct. 1, 1850 • Various

... those years he retained unimpaired not only the confidence but the devotion, the ardent devotion and affection of his party, is evidence that besides those higher qualities of statesmanship to which we were daily witnesses, he was also endowed with those inner, subtle, undefinable graces of soul which win and keep ...
— The Day of Sir Wilfrid Laurier - A Chronicle of Our Own Time • Oscar D. Skelton

... referring questions to something he called 'the bulk of mankind'—an undefinable, undignified, unsalaried body, of small account at the beginning of controversies, ...
— In the Name of the Bodleian and Other Essays • Augustine Birrell

... sorts of circumstances; and ask at last: "Is this all?"—No, says your guide; "see here!" and flings one last door open. And that, like the door in Lord Dunsaney's play, opens on to the vastness of the stars. What is it that baffles us and remains undefined and undefinable? Just this: TAO: the Infinite Nature. You can survey the earth, and measure it with chains; but not Space, in which a billion leagues is nowise different from an inch or two, —it bears the same proportion to ...
— The Crest-Wave of Evolution • Kenneth Morris

... have done, left the heart unexhausted, and the passions unconsumed! Years, long years, since then had rolled away, and yet, perhaps, one unconscious attraction that drew Maltravers so suddenly towards Evelyn was a something indistinct and undefinable that reminded him of Alice. There was no similarity in their features; but at times a tone in Evelyn's voice, a "trick of the manner," an air, a gesture, recalled him, over the gulfs of Time, to Poetry, and Hope, ...
— Alice, or The Mysteries, Complete • Edward Bulwer-Lytton

... that it was neither pride of his person, nor fear that she would refuse him—a course she unhesitatingly resolved to take should he think fit to declare himself. She was interested in him and his marvellous beauty, as she might have been in some fascinating panther or leopard—for some undefinable reason she shrank from him, even whilst she admired. The keynote of her nature, a warm 'precipitance of soul,' as Coleridge happily writes it, which Manston had so directly pounced upon at their very ...
— Desperate Remedies • Thomas Hardy

... of Bethesda. (On the right side of the church, in its centre, the lowest of the two pictures which occupy the wall.) A noble work, but eminently disagreeable, as must be all pictures of this subject; and with the same character in it of undefinable want, which I have noticed in the two preceding works. The main figure in it is the cripple, who has taken up his bed; but the whole effect of this action is lost by his not turning to Christ, but flinging it on his shoulder like a triumphant porter with a huge load; and the corrupt Renaissance ...
— The Stones of Venice, Volume III (of 3) • John Ruskin

... of a meaning: is it therefore to be disregarded? They have length, and breadth, and outline: have they nothing to do with depth? Have they only to describe, never to impress? Has nothing any claim to their use but the definite? The cause of a child's tears may be altogether undefinable: has the mother therefore no antidote for his vague misery? That may be strong in colour which has no evident outline. A fairytale, a sonata, a gathering storm, a limitless night, seizes you and sweeps you away: do you begin at once to wrestle with it and ask ...
— A Dish Of Orts • George MacDonald

... content could he have been assured of an early opportunity of attending her obsequies and certain of a long-postponed resurrection; well content, and often wildly happy (with Lucille) ... but for the curious undefinable fear of Something ... Something about which he had the most awful dreams ... Something in a blue room with a mud floor. Something that seemed at times to move beneath his foot, making his blood freeze, his knees smite together, the sunlight ...
— Snake and Sword - A Novel • Percival Christopher Wren

... and all the remains of a Japanese feast, resembling nothing so much as a doll's tea-party. In the midst of this circle of dandies are three over-dressed women, one might say three weird visions, robed in garments of pale and undefinable colors, embroidered with golden monsters; and their great chignons arranged with fantastic art, stuck full of pins and flowers. Two are seated and turn their back to me: one is holding the guitar, the ...
— Madame Chrysantheme • Pierre Loti

... piano, and struck a few notes. There was something caressing in the way in which she touched the keys; whoever she was, she knew how to make sweet music; sad music, too, full of that undefinable longing, like the holding out of one's arms to one's friends in ...
— Stories By English Authors: Germany • Various

... an hour. Many gentlemen were ambitious of the honour of Miss Hauton's hand; but, to their disappointment, she declined dancing any more; and though Buckhurst Falconer had determined not to have stayed, nor to dance with her, yet an undefinable perverse curiosity induced him to delay a few minutes to determine whether she conversed as well as she danced. The sound of her voice was sweet and soft, and there was an air of languor in her whole person and manner, with an apparent indifference ...
— Tales and Novels, Vol. VII - Patronage • Maria Edgeworth

... Snagsby observes, as a novelty, that however quick their pace may be, his companion still seems in some undefinable manner to lurk and lounge; also, that whenever he is going to turn to the right or left, he pretends to have a fixed purpose in his mind of going straight ahead, and wheels off, sharply, at the very last moment. Now and then, when they pass a police-constable on his beat, Mr. Snagsby notices ...
— Bleak House • Charles Dickens

... of one and unravel the formation of the other, is hardly less wonderful than either. Still the great mystery remains unriddled; our researches have brought us no nearer the beginning, and the first cause of all continues unapproachable and undefinable as ever. Instead of explaining physical creation, we begin with it; we take the existence of matter for granted, and its attributes for granted, and forthwith begin to fabricate a universe, without first ascertaining whence was matter, or whence the laws by which it ...
— An Expository Outline of the "Vestiges of the Natural History of Creation" • Anonymous

... was living over again the events of the past few hours—events which had awakened within him susceptibilities he had not known he possessed, which had struck a new chord in his being whose vibrations thrilled him with strange, undefinable pain. As he recalled Whitcomb's affectionate familiarity, he seemed to hear again the low, musical cadences of the boyish tones, to see the sunny radiance of his smile, to feel the irresistible magnetism of ...
— At the Time Appointed • A. Maynard Barbour

... have applied its creative force to every combination of human circumstances that could produce your objects. Yet, amid the toil and triumphs of your scientific industry, upon you there comes the undefinable, the irresistible yearning for intellectual refinement—you build an edifice consecrated to those beautiful emotions and to those civilizing studies in which they excelled, and you impress upon its front ...
— Canada and the States • Edward William Watkin

... school. They were, indeed, much attached to each other; and, peculiarly constituted as Elsie was, one may imagine what kind of heavenly messenger a companion stronger than herself must have been to her. In fact, if she could have framed the undefinable need of her child-like nature into an articulate prayer, it would have been—'Give me some one to love me stronger than I.' Any love was helpful, yes, in its degree, saving to her poor troubled soul; but ...
— Adela Cathcart, Vol. 1 • George MacDonald

... lying abed. The author just mentioned[159] has brought together many observations in which the solution of a mathematical, mechanical, commercial problem appeared suddenly after hours and days of vague, undefinable uneasiness, the cause of which is unknown, which, however, is only the result of an underlying cerebral working; for the trouble, sometimes rising to anguish, ceases as soon as the unawaited conclusion has entered consciousness. The men who think the most are not ...
— Essay on the Creative Imagination • Th. Ribot

... passed a happy childhood with the Little Women of Miss Alcott. Helen's Babies was the first and by far the best book in the modern scriptures of baby-worship. And about all this old-fashioned American literature there was an undefinable savour that satisfied, and even fed, our growing minds. Perhaps it was the smell of growing things; but I am far from certain that it was not simply the smell of wood. Now that all the memory comes back to me, it seems to come back heavy ...
— What I Saw in America • G. K. Chesterton

... rather the ordinary one of universalistic early Christianity on the soil of the Graeco-Roman world. If we describe this as Jewish Christian, then from the meaning which we must give to the words "Christian" and "Gentile Christian", we tacitly legitimise an undefined and undefinable aggregate of Greek ideas, along with a specifically Pauline element, as primitive Christianity, and this is perhaps not the intended, but yet desired, result of the false terminology. Now, if we describe even such writings as the Epistle of ...
— History of Dogma, Volume 1 (of 7) • Adolph Harnack

... the while); but as soon as I say to her, "My dear creature, be fond of this lady, or t'other!" all obedience ceases; she executes the most refined curtseys; smiles and kisses even to order; but performs that mysterious undefinable freemasonic signal, which passes between women, by which each knows that the other hates her. So, with regard to Fanny, we had met at her house, and at others. I remembered her affectionately from old days, I fully credited poor Hal's violent protests and tearful oaths, that, by George, ...
— The Virginians • William Makepeace Thackeray

... they still enjoy. But for the arms of the City of London itself no authority can be adduced, and in the opinion of many none is required, "seeing," as an old writer on the subject says, "that of things armorial the very essence is undefinable antiquity; a sort of perpetual old age, without record of childhood." That the arms which the Corporation now use differ from those it first employed is freely admitted, but comparatively few are aware of the modifications they have undergone, or of the recentness of the date ...
— Memorials of Old London - Volume I • Various

... pleasant evening towards the close of April, and the low descending sun was shedding the mellow light of his parting beams over the joyful face of reanimating nature. The invalid, during all the fore part of the day, had suffered greatly from pain—that general and undefinable distress which is so frequently found to be the precursor of approaching dissolution. To this had succeeded a sort of lethargic sleep, from which it was not easy to arouse her, so that she could be made to take any notice of what was passing around her. But ...
— The Rangers - [Subtitle: The Tory's Daughter] • D. P. Thompson

... Street nursing home and was at once surrounded with the hush, the shaded rooms, the scents of medicine and flowers, and some undefinable cleanliness that belongs to ...
— The Best British Short Stories of 1922 • Edward J. O'Brien and John Cournos, editors

... some day appear before the throne of God even more chaste than the Virgin Mary herself,—Grandet, struck with pity, would say as he looked at her, "Poor Nanon!" The exclamation was always followed by an undefinable look cast upon him in return by the old servant. The words, uttered from time to time, formed a chain of friendship that nothing ever parted, and to which each exclamation added a link. Such compassion ...
— Eugenie Grandet • Honore de Balzac

... prize he now knew he coveted should be taken from him. No one but himself should write to Maude Remington, for she was his, or rather she should be his. The contents of that note might be of the most ordinary kind, but for some reason undefinable to himself he would rather she should not see it yet, and though it cost him a struggle to deal thus falsely with both, he resolved to keep it from her until she had promised to be his wife. He never dreamed it possible that she could tell him no, he had been so flattered and admired by the city ...
— Cousin Maude • Mary J. Holmes

... fashionable is peculiar and characteristic. From the toe of his boot to the crown of his hat, there is that unostentatious, undefinable something about him distinctive of his social position. Professional men, every body knows, have an expression common to their profession. A purblind cyclops could never mistake the expression of an Independent preacher, an universal free-black-nigger Baptist minister, or a Jesuit. Every ...
— Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine, No. 327 - Vol. 53, January, 1843 • Various

... looked on in silent wonder: for one of the pair was none other than the fairy maiden who had lived so long amongst them, and had endeared herself even to these rude spirits by her grace and sweetness and undefinable charm; the other, that youth with the wonderful eyes and saint-like face who had been captured and borne away to Saut after the battle before St. Jean d'Angely, and whose body they all believed had long ago been lying beneath the sullen waters of the moat, where so many victims ...
— In the Days of Chivalry • Evelyn Everett-Green

... this and similar journeys, by means of the Diary, enthuses my soul with an undefinable longing to have been with him. The excitement, and danger, and hurry and bustle constantly incident to travel at the present day were all unfelt ...
— Life and Labors of Elder John Kline, the Martyr Missionary - Collated from his Diary by Benjamin Funk • John Kline

... multitude, headed by chosen assassins, are attacking the prisons, forcing the houses of the noblesse and priests, and, after a horrid mockery of judicial condemnation, execute them on the spot. The tocsin is rung, alarm guns are fired, the streets resound with fearful shrieks, and an undefinable sensation of terror seizes on one's heart. I feel that I have committed an imprudence in venturing to Paris; but the barriers are now shut, and I must abide the event. I know not to what these proscriptions ...
— A Residence in France During the Years 1792, 1793, 1794 and 1795, • An English Lady

... back to Lynbrook. She had been, after all, unable to stay out the ten days of her visit: the undefinable sense of being needed, so often the determining motive of her actions, drew her back to Long Island at the end of the week. She had received no word from Amherst or Bessy; only Cicely had told her, in a big round hand, that ...
— The Fruit of the Tree • Edith Wharton

... raise my eyes, I beheld a figure immediately before me. I was astonished at the sight, for I had perceived no one approach—had heard no footstep advance towards me, and was satisfied that no one besides myself could be in the garden. The presence of the figure inspired me with an undefinable awe! and, I can scarce tell why, but a thrilling presentiment convinced me that it was a supernatural visitant. Without motion—without life—without substance, it seemed; yet still the outward character of life was there. I started to my feet. God! what did I behold? The face was ...
— Rookwood • William Harrison Ainsworth

... also as an exercise to be rendered into Patavinian Latin. The latter part, the "Miseries of Opium," I had most unaccountably always neglected to read. Again and again, when my increasing debility had threatened to bring my studies to an abrupt conclusion, I had meditated this experiment, but an undefinable and shadowy fear had as often stayed my hand. But now that I knew that unless I could by artificial stimuli obtain a sudden increase of strength I must STARVE, I no longer hesitated. I was desperate; I believed that something horrible would result from it; though ...
— The Opium Habit • Horace B. Day

... possession of her, and she trembled. But no; Demorest, who had already taken such extreme measures, could not consistently listen to any suggestion for delay. As her only danger lay in Demorest's presence, the absence of her husband caused her more undefinable ...
— The Argonauts of North Liberty • Bret Harte

... and other hardy shrubs that in some placas clothed its rocky sides were green, to view the river sparkling below you in the sun, as it flung itself over two or three cataracts of great depth and boldness, filled the mind with those undefinable sensations of pleasure inseparable from a contemplation of the sublimities of nature. Nor did it possess less interest when beheld in the winter storm. Well do we remember, though then ignorant of our own motives, when we have, in the turmoil of the elements, ...
— The Hedge School; The Midnight Mass; The Donagh • William Carleton

... he noticed Jonathan Wild at a little distance from him, eyeing him with a look of the most savage satisfaction. The thief-taker's throat was bound up with thick folds of linen, and his face had a ghastly and cadaverous look, which communicated an undefinable and ...
— Jack Sheppard - A Romance • William Harrison Ainsworth

... She knew instantly, by its unsteadiness, that he was intoxicated. She did not disrobe, but, sitting down beside the bed, listened with painful anxiety to hear him go quietly to rest in his own room. She sat almost breathless, while a thrilling and undefinable dread crept through her whole frame. The steps went slowly on, she heard them pass into Della's chamber, linger there a moment, and then, oh, horror! they were directed straight toward her door. They came on, ...
— The Brother Clerks - A Tale of New-Orleans • Xariffa

... commenced her walk towards it in dread unutterable, an undefined sense of evil filling her sinking heart; mingling with which, came, with a rush of terror, a fear of that other undefinable evil—the evil Mrs. Hare had declared was ...
— East Lynne • Mrs. Henry Wood

... all possible wives that you are— when he looks his best, as he always does. Nor do I think the fascination of his manner has much to do with it. You recollect that the charm of art inheres in that which is undefinable, and to you and me, my dear Irene, I fancy there is rather less of that in the branch of art under consideration than to girls in their first season. I fancy I know how my fine gentleman produces many of his effects, and could, perhaps, give him a pointer on heightening ...
— Stories by Modern American Authors • Julian Hawthorne

... Nevertheless, Mr. Glascock felt much compunction in carrying the child away without a final kiss or word of farewell from its father. But it was not to be so. He had got into the carriage with the child, having the servant seated opposite to him,—for he was moved by some undefinable fear which made him determine to keep the boy close to him, and he had not, therefore, returned to the driver's seat,—when Trevelyan appeared standing by the road-side at the bottom of the hill. "Would you take him away from me without ...
— He Knew He Was Right • Anthony Trollope

... of us. On the other hand, we are very stupid about recognizing the intelligence of orientals. We have been accustomed to think that there is a great gulf between ourselves and other races; and this persists in an undefinable way after scores of Japanese have taken high rank in our schools, and after Hindus have repeatedly been among the wranglers in mathematics at Cambridge. It is only when one of the far eastern nations has come bodily to the front that we begin to ask ourselves whether there is not an ...
— Sex and Society • William I. Thomas

... apparition of the viper in the sandy lane, it dwelt in the mind of the boy, affording copious food for the exercise of imagination. From that moment with the name of Dane were associated strange ideas of strength, daring, and superhuman stature; and an undefinable curiosity for all that is connected with the Danish race began to pervade me; and if, long after, when I became a student, I devoted myself with peculiar zest to Danish lore and the acquirement of the old Norse tongue and its dialects, I can only explain the matter by the early ...
— Lavengro - The Scholar, The Gypsy, The Priest • George Borrow

... but his feelings were not less deep, as he embraced his child and shook the hands of Mr. Miller and Fanny. Old Hector, too, shared in the general sorrow, but for some undefinable reason he seemed to cling more closely to Fanny. He would look up in her face and howl, as if he knew she was leaving him forever. "Noble Hector!" said Fanny, "and do you indeed love me so well?" Then kneeling down by him, she drew from her neck a tiny locket, ...
— Tempest and Sunshine • Mary J. Holmes

... something wanting, as I've said— That undefinable "Je ne scais quoi" Which, for what I know, may of yore have led To Homer's Iliad, since it drew to Troy The Greek Eve, Helen, from the Spartan's bed; Though on the whole, no doubt, the Dardan boy Was much inferior ...
— The Works of Lord Byron, Volume 6 • Lord Byron



Words linked to "Undefinable" :   vague



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