obfuscate

verb
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.

Keep scrolling for more

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

Synonyms

becloud, befog, blur, cloud, confuse, fog, muddy

Antonyms

clarify, clear (up), illuminate

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

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

In Sugar Land, the political will to obfuscate history seemed too strong. Siddhartha Mahanta, The New York Review of Books, "One Man’s Quest for a Memorial to Sugar Land’s Bitter History," 4 June 2019 Yet no one has figured out how to efficiently obfuscate even the small bootstrapping program. Quanta Magazine, "A New Design for Cryptography’s Black Box," 2 Sep. 2015 Inspired by traditional Appalachian Sacred Harp singing, done a cappella, the track builds to a crescendo of voices that obfuscate the difference between human and machine, but which nonetheless elicits the biologically innate goosebump response. Billboard Staff, Billboard, "The 32 Best Dance Songs of 2019 (So Far): Staff Picks," 27 June 2019 Sanders has obfuscated and stalled and deflected, providing effective cover for some of the president’s most misogynistic behavior. Glamour, "I Cannot Tell a Lie—Sarah Huckabee Sanders Won't Be Missed," 18 June 2019 This lather-rinse-and-repeat cycle is especially useful at moments when there is other bad news to obfuscate. Aziz Huq, Vox, "The faulty legal logic behind Trump’s birthright citizenship proposal.," 31 Oct. 2018 Law and custom have always purposefully obfuscated the fatherhood of certain categories of men: the slave owner, the priest, the colonizer, the soldier. The Conversation, oregonlive.com, "Who’s is your daddy? It’s not all about DNA," 16 June 2019 In other words, the traditional machinery of quantum field theory, involving hundreds of Feynman diagrams worth thousands of mathematical terms, was obfuscating something much simpler. Quanta Magazine, "A Jewel at the Heart of Quantum Physics," 17 Sep. 2013 Anti-trans activists and religious conservatives frequently try to obfuscate that number by claiming that suicidality is merely a symptom that comes along with being trans. Teen Vogue, "How Trump's Anti-Transgender Policies Could Hurt Young People," 31 May 2019

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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about obfuscate

Listen to Our Podcast about obfuscate

Statistics for obfuscate

Last Updated

18 Jul 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for obfuscate

The first known use of obfuscate was in 1536

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for obfuscate

obfuscate

verb

English Language Learners Definition of obfuscate

formal : to make (something) more difficult to understand

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on obfuscate

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with obfuscate

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for obfuscate

Spanish Central: Translation of obfuscate

Nglish: Translation of obfuscate for Spanish Speakers

Comments on obfuscate

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

WORD OF THE DAY

to complain fretfully

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

What's that Smell?! Quiz

  • wide eyed dog smelling rose
  • Someone who is hircine smells like a:
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

TAKE THE QUIZ
SCRABBLE® Sprint

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!