Merriam-Webster Logo
  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
  • Scrabble
  • Spanish Central
  • Learner's Dictionary


verb, ob·nu·bi·late \äb-ˈnü-bə-ˌlāt, -ˈnyü-\

Definition of obnubilate


  1. transitive verb
  2. :  becloud, obscure

obnubilation play \-ˌnü-bə-ˈlā-shən, -ˌnyü-\ noun

Did You Know?

The meaning of "obnubilate" becomes clearer when you know that its ancestors are the Latin terms ob- (meaning "in the way") and "nubes" ("cloud"). It's a high-flown sounding word, which may be why it often turns up in texts by and about politicians. In fact, when the U.S. Constitution was up for ratification, 18th-century Pennsylvania statesman James Wilson used it to calm fears that the president would have too much power: "Our first executive magistrate is not obnubilated behind the mysterious obscurity of counsellors. . . . He is the dignified, but accountable magistrate of a free and great people."

Origin of obnubilate

Latin obnubilatus, past participle of obnubilare, from ob- in the way + nubilare to be cloudy, from nubilus cloudy, from nubes cloud — more at ob-, nuance

First Known Use: 1583

Seen and Heard

What made you want to look up obnubilate? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


tending to dismiss important matters

Get Word of the Day daily email!