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 Similar to money laundering, information laundering obfuscates the original source of the content, and disproportionate credibility is afforded to the last person who sent us the message, often triggering a System 1 response. Ajay Khari, Forbes, 28 Nov. 2023 While Glaze is oriented toward obfuscating the style of the artwork, Nightshade goes a step further by corrupting the training data. Benj Edwards, Ars Technica, 25 Oct. 2023 There’s much research out there on those basic matching tasks, and attackers are also adept at framing others (for example, counterfeiting Shakespeare) and obfuscating their own identities (being Shakespeare but writing differently to throw detectives off the scent). Sarah Scoles, Popular Science, 2 Nov. 2023 Under the glare of scrutiny, Foggy Bottom’s efforts to obfuscate, misdirect, and stonewall can’t hold up forever. The Editors, National Review, 27 Sep. 2023 Each of the hops is designed to further obfuscate the origin of the funds and limit the likelihood an exchange might identify wrongdoing and freeze the assets. Joel Khalili, WIRED, 7 Sep. 2023 While these laws are well-intentioned, the data that companies share to comply with them is usually structured in a way that obfuscates crucial details that would expose harm. Surya Mattu, WIRED, 22 Aug. 2023 But company finances are rarely transparent, obfuscating how much owners make from their senior living operations — and to what extent their profits are inflated by low staffing at facilities. Sahana Jayaraman, AZCentral.com, 27 June 2023 But to Smith, those exceptions can obfuscate the work that still needs to be done. Time, 17 Aug. 2023 See More

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 5 Dec. 2023.

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