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 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 Lasers have offensive potential to blind or discomfit enemy personnel as well as obfuscate or destroy sensitive electrooptical sensors. Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics, 9 June 2023 Nikhil Wahi and Ramani tried to obfuscate the trades by using various anonymous crypto wallets. Marco Quiroz-Gutierrez, Fortune Crypto, 26 Apr. 2023 Meanwhile, Vargas’ enquiries become progressively more obfuscated by the American cop Hank Quinlan (Welles), a besotted incarnation of corruption who alternately conspires with Susie’s captors and seeks solace in the brothel of the Gypsy madame (Marlene Dietrich) who comforted him in bygone times. Naman Ramachandran, Variety, 28 June 2023 But the haze of fact-free hype surrounding Ramaswamy’s business exploits obfuscates some of the key questions about his true business background which have gone unanswered. Jeffrey Sonnenfeld, Fortune, 14 June 2023 By obfuscating sources, users render transparent the mode of engagement AI inherently advances: one founded on mass consumption, where quantity itself is quality. Vivian Lam, WIRED, 24 Feb. 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 30 Sep. 2023.

More from Merriam-Webster on obfuscate

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
Love words? Need even more definitions?

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