25 Things We Understand Clearly But Can’t Fully Explain

Posted by , Updated on February 14, 2024

There are some things in life that just go without saying. We all understand them intuitively. They just make sense to us. For example, breathing. How do you explain that to somebody? And we’re not talking about the scientific sense. We know, oxygen, carbon dioxide, gas exchange, etc. What we are talking about is actually explaining to somebody how to breathe. Could you do that? What would you tell them?

You see, there are some things that are just impossible to explain. You can’t talk someone into flexing their diaphragm and taking a breath in the same way that you can’t explain what the color blue looks like. Well, it looks like peacefulness or happiness or quietness. That’s just hippie talk! There is no way that you could definitively describe the color blue to someone in a way that would confirm they are seeing precisely the same color and shade as you. It is just impossible. When it comes to colors, words fail us. We have no vocabulary to describe what definitively distinguishes blue from green or red from orange.

And that is the topic for today. These are 25 Things We Understand Clearly But Can’t Fully Explain!

Featured Image: pixabay


Beyond a reasonable doubt

Beyond a reasonable doubtSource: quora

The meaning of this legal term is so vague that lawyers are actually encouraged to not try defining it. In fact, there is no accepted definition and for most of recorded history it has been held to be self-evident.

Note: it is basically the point where it becomes obvious that the defendant is guilty. Perhaps not surprisingly, that point is very subjective.



SmellsImage: pixabay, Source: reddit

There is no clear way to describe what you are smelling without using a lot of adjectives and hoping the other person is a good guesser.



AttractionSource: quora

Why do you like them? Because I just do!



YawningImage: wikipedia, Source: reddit

Apart from the fact that scientists still don’t know why we yawn, they also don’t know why it is contagious.



HumorSource: thoughtcatalog

Why do you find something funny? It’s pretty hard to explain succinctly.


The taste of water

The taste of waterImage: pixabay, Source: quora

It tastes…watery.



DreamsImage: pexels, Source: reddit

As with a couple other things in this list, not even scientists can explain them.



TicklingImage: wikipedia, Source: quora

More specifically, what it feels like. Oh it feels bad? Then why are you laughing?



NothingnessSource: reddit

Try to explain the concept of nothing without using the word “nothing” or the word “opposite.”



EmotionsImage: pixabay, Source: quora

Recognizing and being able to identify your own emotions is hard enough. Describing them is next to impossible.



GravityImage: wikipedia, Source: thoughtcatalog

Thanks to Einstein, our understanding of gravity changed, but we still don’t really know what it is or exactly how it works. All we know is that more mass = more gravity.


Curious about more inexplicable things? Check out 25 Crazy Diseases Science Can’t Explain.



TimeImage: pixabay, Source: quora

It’s almost impossible to describe without using a self-referencing definition.



SleepImage: wikipedia, Source: thoughtcatalog

More precisely, why we sleep. Scientists aren’t even sure of the reasons. We all assume it’s to rest, but our brains can actually be more active at night than during the day.



TemperatureImage: pixabay, Source: reddit

The extremes of “hot” and “cold” to be more accurate. How would you describe heat to somebody? It burns? But wait, so does extreme cold.



BreathingImage: Shawn Rossi via Flickr, Source: reddit

Not the science of it, but the practical aspect. If your friend all of a sudden forgot how to breathe, and you couldn’t do CPR (or get near him/her), what would you tell them to do?



EnglishSource: reddit

Or English spelling to be more specific. Are there even any rules?


Moving your body

Moving your bodyImage: wikipedia, Source: quora

It sounds dumb, and as with a few other things on this list, we are not interested in the scientific definition, but rather the practical definition. If your friend (the one who forgot how to breathe) instead forgot how to move, what would you say this time?



ColorsImage: wikipedia

We all know what blue is, but how on Earth would you explain it to someone?



LanguageImage: wikipedia

This is something that we just seem to understand, even as children. Even kids who grow up in environments where they are not exposed to any human language (feral children) will develop their own language. Furthermore, all languages share the same, or similar, methods and functions in spite of developing completely independently e.g. verbs, nouns, prepositions, articles, declension, conjugation.


Points, lines, and sets

Points, lines, and setsImage: wikipedia

In math, they are defined as “undefined primitives.” This essentially means that they are self-evident. Or in other words, you can’t define them without themselves. A point is a point.



MusicImage: pixabay, Source: quora

Why is it that a major chord is happy and a minor chord is sad? Furthermore, what does music even sound like?



DirectionsImage: wikipedia, Source: thoughtcatalog

Try to tell somebody the difference between left and right without pointing or using directional words (clockwise, etc).


Riding a bike

Riding a bikeImage: wikipedia, Source: thoughtcatalog

You just…do it.



InstinctSource: quora

If you’ve ever had a gut feeling and tried to explain it, you understand.



PainImage: wikipedia, Source: thoughtcatalog

This is actually a legitimate problem faced by doctors and health care professionals as different patients describe the same problem very differently.


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