abstruse

adjective
ab·​struse | \ əb-ˈstrüs How to pronounce abstruse (audio) , ab-\

Definition of abstruse

formal
: difficult to comprehend : recondite the abstruse calculations of mathematicians abstruse concepts/ideas/theories

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Other Words from abstruse

abstrusely adverb
abstruseness noun

Synonyms & Antonyms for abstruse

Synonyms

arcane, deep, esoteric, hermetic (also hermetical), profound, recondite

Antonyms

shallow, superficial

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Obtuse vs. Abstruse

Obtuse, which comes to us from the Latin word obtusus, meaning "dull" or "blunt," can describe an angle that is not acute or a person who is mentally "dull" or slow of mind. The word has also developed a somewhat controversial sense of "hard to comprehend," probably as a result of confusion with abstruse. This sense of obtuse is well established, and it is now possible to speak of "obtuse language" and "obtuse explanations," as well as "obtuse angles" and "obtuse readers"; however, it may attract some criticism. If you're hesitant about using new meanings of words, you should probably stick with abstruse when you want a word meaning "difficult to understand."

Latin Ties Things Together With Abstruse

Look closely at the following Latin verbs, all of which are derived from the verb "trudere" ("to push"): "extrudere," "intrudere," "obtrudere," "protrudere." Each of these Latin verbs has an English descendant whose meaning involves pushing or thrusting. Another "trudere" offspring, abstrudere, meaning "to push away" or "to conceal," gave English abstrude, meaning "to thrust away." But that verb didn't make it past the 17th century. The "abstrudere" descendant that did survive is "abstruse," an adjective that recalls the meaning of its Latin parent abstrusus, meaning "concealed."

Examples of abstruse in a Sentence

Her subject matter is abstruse. you're not the only one who finds Einstein's theory of relativity abstruse

Recent Examples on the Web

More than many other abstruse areas of higher mathematics, chaos theory has captured the public imagination. Martin Weil, BostonGlobe.com, "Mitchell Feigenbaum, an architect of chaos theory, dies at 74," 14 July 2019 On her site, Lab Muffin (labmuffin.com), the chemist demystifies scientific lingo and product labels to help inform laypeople and promote critical thinking about abstruse beauty claims. Hana Hong, Marie Claire, "25 People Changing the Beauty Industry," 3 Sep. 2019 More than many other abstruse areas of higher mathematics, chaos theory has captured the public imagination. Martin Weil, BostonGlobe.com, "Mitchell Feigenbaum, an architect of chaos theory, dies at 74," 14 July 2019 More than many other abstruse areas of higher mathematics, chaos theory has captured the public imagination. Martin Weil, BostonGlobe.com, "Mitchell Feigenbaum, an architect of chaos theory, dies at 74," 14 July 2019 More than many other abstruse areas of higher mathematics, chaos theory has captured the public imagination. Martin Weil, BostonGlobe.com, "Mitchell Feigenbaum, an architect of chaos theory, dies at 74," 14 July 2019 More than many other abstruse areas of higher mathematics, chaos theory has captured the public imagination. Martin Weil, BostonGlobe.com, "Mitchell Feigenbaum, an architect of chaos theory, dies at 74," 14 July 2019 More than many other abstruse areas of higher mathematics, chaos theory has captured the public imagination. Martin Weil, Washington Post, "Mitchell Feigenbaum, an architect of chaos theory, dies at 74," 12 July 2019 There’s no guarantee of success — no assurance that quantum mechanics really does have something plain and simple at its heart, rather than the abstruse collection of mathematical concepts used today. Quanta Magazine, "Quantum Theory Rebuilt From Simple Physical Principles," 30 Aug. 2017

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'abstruse.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of abstruse

circa 1549, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for abstruse

borrowed from Latin abstrūsus "concealed, recondite," from past participle of abstrūdere "to conceal," from abs- (variant of ab- ab- before c- and t-) + trūdere "to push, thrust" — more at threat entry 1

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Dictionary Entries near abstruse

abstrict

abstricted

abstriction

abstruse

abstrusity

absume

absurd

Statistics for abstruse

Last Updated

2 Oct 2019

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Time Traveler for abstruse

The first known use of abstruse was circa 1549

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More from Merriam-Webster on abstruse

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with abstruse

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for abstruse

Spanish Central: Translation of abstruse

Nglish: Translation of abstruse for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of abstruse for Arabic Speakers

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