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.

Other Words from obfuscate

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

Synonyms & Antonyms for obfuscate

Synonyms

Antonyms

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

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 Overall, Minnesota boasts the highest percentage of students who meet the reading benchmark in the country and the third-highest for math — driven by the high marks of White students — which can obfuscate these racial disparities. Washington Post, 9 May 2022 Nonetheless, the bill was named the Affordable Care Act, and Barack Obama and his allies spent much of the debate trying to obfuscate the issue of premiums. Philip Klein, National Review, 25 Mar. 2022 Jenkins uses emotional and cultural arguments, as well as outlier athletic examples, to obfuscate the fact that as a group, men have a biological advantage in athletic competition. Jenna Stocker, National Review, 24 Mar. 2022 Some of these women have medical conditions that obfuscate their pregnancy symptoms; in other cases, the signs were clearly there. Danielle Lindemann, The Atlantic, 13 Feb. 2022 Though Rabin attempts to obfuscate and undermine it, significant research suggests that the fetal heartbeat is a helpful marker of health. Alexandra Desanctis, National Review, 14 Feb. 2022 Don’t let Auburn’s failed quest to throw Harsin overboard obfuscate the issues raised last week by people who were part of the program in 2021. Blake Toppmeyer, USA TODAY, 12 Feb. 2022 There’s no mechanism in place to prevent launderers from creating multiple accounts and transferring assets between them to further obfuscate the trail. Martin Cheek, Fortune, 11 Feb. 2022 Rather than be transparent with Committee Republicans, HHS and NIH have chosen to hide, obfuscate, and shield the truth. James Freeman, WSJ, 2 Feb. 2022 See More

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.

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

Learn More About obfuscate

Time Traveler for obfuscate

Time Traveler

The first known use of obfuscate was in 1536

See more words from the same year

Listen to Our Podcast About obfuscate

Dictionary Entries Near obfuscate

obfuscable

obfuscate

obfuscator

See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for obfuscate

Last Updated

23 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Obfuscate.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/obfuscate. Accessed 28 May. 2022.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

More from Merriam-Webster on obfuscate

Nglish: Translation of obfuscate for Spanish Speakers

WORD OF THE DAY

Test Your Vocabulary

Eponyms: Words Named After People

True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

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!