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.

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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



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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 It toys with the viewer, obfuscating and withholding information; links are clearly missing. N.e.g., The Economist, "“Pain and Glory” and the question of autobiographical art," 7 Oct. 2019 This stems in part from both the urgency of the problem and the time wasted already through ignoring or obfuscating it. Washington Post, "Climate Change Will Survive the Debates Even If Inslee Doesn’t," 1 Aug. 2019 Friday’s statement said North Korean hacking operations have also targeted virtual asset providers and cryptocurrency exchanges, possibly in an attempt to obfuscate revenue streams used to support the countries weapons programs. Dan Goodin, Ars Technica, "Meet the three North Korean hacking groups funding the country’s weapons programs," 13 Sep. 2019 These include 10 overarching recommendations covering everything from proper use and deployment of telemedicine to how medical decision-making may be complemented, rather than hampered or obfuscated, by new technologies. Sy Mukherjee, Fortune, "The Surprising Health Care Companies Changing the World: Brainstorm Health," 19 Aug. 2019 Paying models in trade is one of the ways the industry both perpetuates and obfuscates the economic precarity of its workers. Isabel Cristo, The New Republic, "Fashion Week’s Labor Problem Is Our Labor Problem," 11 Sep. 2019 But Graham said unlike iPhone and Apple Watch addresses, MAC addresses for Macintosh computers aren’t obfuscated this way. Dan Goodin, Ars Technica, "Apple’s AirDrop and password sharing features can leak iPhone numbers," 1 Aug. 2019 Several cases that resulted in dismissals for dishonesty stem from employees lying or obfuscating during police investigations of domestic violence or driving under the influence. Julie Small, The Mercury News, "Records show Bay Area prison guard fired for lying about teen sex assault," 30 Aug. 2019 Such investigations are inherently limited: some prospective witnesses might decline to be interviewed; some witnesses might lie, exaggerate, conceal or obfuscate. Michael Mccann, SI.com, "Examining Every Aspect of the Luke Walton Investigation and Considering Next Steps," 27 Aug. 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.

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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

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Time Traveler for obfuscate

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The first known use of obfuscate was in 1536

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Last Updated

5 Dec 2019

Cite this Entry

“Obfuscate.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/obfuscating. Accessed 7 December 2019.

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More Definitions for obfuscate


How to pronounce obfuscate (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of obfuscate

formal : to make (something) more difficult to understand

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Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for obfuscate

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with obfuscate

Spanish Central: Translation of obfuscate

Nglish: Translation of obfuscate for Spanish Speakers

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