ob·​fus·​cate ˈäb-fə-ˌskāt How to pronounce obfuscate (audio)
obfuscated; obfuscating

transitive verb

: to throw into shadow : darken
: to make obscure
obfuscate the issue
officials who … continue to obscure and obfuscate what happenedMary Carroll
: confuse
obfuscate the reader

intransitive verb

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

Did you know?

Try to Understand the Roots of Obfuscate

Obfuscate comes from the Latin prefix ob- (meaning "over" or "completely") and fuscus ("dark-colored"). That fact gives an idea as to how the word can refer to making something difficult to see or understand—much like how dark, dirty water makes it hard to see the bottom.

Examples of obfuscate in a Sentence

Politicians keep obfuscating the issues. Their explanations only serve to obfuscate and confuse.
Recent Examples on the Web In the past, Russian officials have twisted themselves into knots trying to obfuscate the Kremlin’s connection to various assassinations around Europe, often in the face of clear evidence of state involvement. José Bautista, New York Times, 31 Mar. 2024 Serious people should know what an older version of antisemitic denialism was all about: a steady stream of factual nitpicks, logical inversions and rhetorical legerdemain meant to obfuscate and deny the greatest crime in history. Bret Stephens, The Mercury News, 8 Mar. 2024 See all Example Sentences for obfuscate 

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'obfuscate.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


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

First Known Use

1536, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1a

Time Traveler
The first known use of obfuscate was in 1536


Dictionary Entries Near obfuscate

Cite this Entry

“Obfuscate.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/obfuscate. Accessed 18 Apr. 2024.

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