obfuscate

verb
ob·​fus·​cate | \ˈäb-fə-ˌskāt; 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 \ noun
obfuscatory \äb-​ˈfə-​skə-​ˌtȯr-​ē, əb-​ \ adjective

Synonyms & Antonyms for obfuscate

Synonyms

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

Antonyms

clarify, clear (up), illuminate

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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

That page, using an obfuscated JavaScript, forwards the victim to another website, which in turn forwards to the site applesecurityrisks.xyz—a fake Apple Support page. Sean Gallagher, Ars Technica, "Click on this iOS phishing scam and you’ll be connected to “Apple Care”," 30 July 2018 Reaching across oceans and into networks without borders can obfuscate their origins. Tami Abdollah, The Seattle Times, "Prosecutors: Russian hackers exploit US cyber vulnerability," 17 July 2018 In those days, though, the word hadn’t slipped into obfuscating overuse yet; even Clinton was able to take a small step beyond its veil. Carina Chocano, New York Times, "‘Inappropriate’ Behavior Could Mean a Faux Pas — Or a Crime," 19 June 2018 This positive image obfuscates the real purpose of elite schools: From their inception, the core function of elite schools is to make, remake, or advance the socioeconomic status of each student. Adam Howard, Vox, "I’ve spent decades studying elite schools. Here’s how their culture enables toxic masculinity.," 27 Sep. 2018 Officials in Pyongyang are seeking to obfuscate the true number of their weapons facilities, and U.S. intelligence officials believe that more than just one hidden site exists. Washington Post, "North Korea working to conceal key aspects of its nuclear program, U.S. officials say," 2 July 2018 Officials in Pyongyang are seeking to obfuscate the true number of their weapons facilities, and U.S. intelligence officials believe that more than just one hidden site exists. Washington Post, "North Korea working to conceal key aspects of its nuclear program, U.S. officials say," 2 July 2018 Its provenance is murky, obfuscated by a private agreement, pseudonyms and evolving explanations. William K. Rashbaum, Danny Hakim, Brian M. Rosenthal, Emily Flitter And Jesse Drucker, New York Times, "How Michael Cohen, Trump’s Fixer, Built a Shadowy Business Empire," 5 May 2018 For nearly a month at this World Cup, Russia had managed to bend, tweak and obfuscate one simple fact—a state secret hidden in plain sight. Joshua Robinson, WSJ, "Russia Is Out of the Russian World Cup," 7 July 2018

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

Late Latin obfuscatus, past participle of obfuscare, from Latin ob- in the way + fuscus dark brown — more at ob-, dusk

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Statistics for obfuscate

Last Updated

5 Dec 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for obfuscate

The first known use of obfuscate was in 1536

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More Definitions for obfuscate

obfuscate

verb

English Language Learners Definition of obfuscate

: to make (something) more difficult to understand

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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

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