ob·​fus·​cate | \ ˈäb-fə-ˌskāt How to pronounce obfuscate (audio) ; äb-ˈfə-ˌskāt, əb- \
obfuscated; obfuscating

Definition of obfuscate

transitive verb

1a : to throw into shadow : darken
b : to make obscure obfuscate the issue officials who … continue to obscure and obfuscate what happened— Mary Carroll
2 : confuse obfuscate the reader

intransitive verb

: to be evasive, unclear, or confusing The suspect often obfuscated during the interrogation.

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Other Words from obfuscate

obfuscation \ ˌäb-​(ˌ)fə-​ˈskā-​shən How to pronounce obfuscation (audio) \ noun
obfuscatory \ äb-​ˈfə-​skə-​ˌtȯr-​ē How to pronounce obfuscatory (audio) , əb-​ \ adjective

Synonyms & Antonyms for obfuscate



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Try to Understand the Roots of Obfuscate

To obfuscate something means to make it so that it isn't clear or transparent, much like dirty water makes it hard to see to the bottom of a pond. The verb shares its ob- root (meaning "over, completely") with obscure, another word that can refer to the act of concealing something or making it more difficult to see or understand. The rest of obfuscate comes from Latin fuscus, which means "dark brown" and is distantly related to our word dusk.

Examples of obfuscate in a Sentence

Politicians keep obfuscating the issues. Their explanations only serve to obfuscate and confuse.
Recent Examples on the Web China’s deny-and-obfuscate strategy at the outset helped speed the coronavirus’s spread around the world. Harry Cheadle, The New Republic, "America Has Failed the Existential-Crisis Test," 23 June 2020 Using a service called a Virtual Private Network could help organizers obfuscate their Internet traffic. Patrick Lucas Austin, Time, "Going to a Protest? Here's How to Protect Your Digital Privacy," 17 June 2020 But converting those instructions to C code that's parsable and easily editable by humans is far from a simple process (and automated tools that convert that assembly code to C often introduce logic errors or obfuscate the code too severely). Kyle Orland, Ars Technica, "Beyond emulation: The massive effort to reverse-engineer N64 source code," 6 May 2020 For Maier, the conservative Germans were obfuscating the fact that their ancestors, and no one else, had built the death camps. Samuel Moyn, The New York Review of Books, "The Trouble with Comparisons," 19 May 2020 If one of these is covered up by an obstruction, then, RoadTagger can look to the other tiles to predict what's included in the one that's obfuscated. Courtney Linder, Popular Mechanics, "How Machine Learning Will Lead to Better Maps," 27 Jan. 2020 The effort of so many Republican colleagues of mine to obfuscate away from the president’s egregious conduct and abuse of power is something that has shocked the conscience of many of my colleagues in the Democratic House. Justin Wingerter, The Denver Post, "Trump campaign accuses Colorado congressman of impeachment lies," 8 Dec. 2019 Reducing both oil and the disease to little more than economic forces obfuscates another side of the equation, in which the virus is a thing in the world. On Barak, Quartz, "Fossil fuels are propelling Covid-19—and the next pandemic," 16 Apr. 2020 These numbers obfuscate a darker reality: the deleterious effect of art fairs on small and medium-size galleries. Brian P. Kelly, WSJ, "The High Cost of Art Fairs," 3 Mar. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'obfuscate.' 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 obfuscate

1536, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1a

History and Etymology for obfuscate

borrowed from Late Latin obfuscātus, offuscātus, past participle of obfuscāre, offuscāre "to obscure, darken, depreciate," from Latin ob-, perfective prefix + -fuscāre, verbal derivative of fuscus "dark-colored, somber, dark-skinned or -complected" — more at ob-, dusk entry 1

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Time Traveler for obfuscate

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The first known use of obfuscate was in 1536

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Last Updated

27 Jun 2020

Cite this Entry

“Obfuscate.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/obfuscate. Accessed 10 Jul. 2020.

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More Definitions for obfuscate


How to pronounce obfuscate (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of obfuscate

formal : to make (something) more difficult to understand

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Spanish Central: Translation of obfuscate

Nglish: Translation of obfuscate for Spanish Speakers

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