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.

Keep scrolling for more

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

Synonyms

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

Antonyms

clarify, clear (up), illuminate

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

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

Along with abusive experience blocking, Chrome 71 will also present a warning about sites that try to bill you without your full consent or obfuscate a billing structure. Dani Deahl, The Verge, "Google releases Chrome 71 with features to block abusive ads," 5 Dec. 2018 As a key ally of the United States in the region, the kingdom’s rebranding also helps to obfuscate the imperialist alliance’s war on Yemen. Rauza Khan, Teen Vogue, "Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince and Princess Have Been Praised For Being “Progressive” While Our Friend Spent Her Birthday in Jail," 10 Sep. 2018 But this obfuscates the excessive pension promises that politicians have made. The Editorial Board, WSJ, "Why Your Pension Is Doomed," 19 July 2018 Global Vision Group uses an array of mechanisms designed to obfuscate its activities to coordinate with National Iranian Oil Co. to remit payment for oil being shipped to Syria, the Treasury alleged. Samuel Rubenfeld, WSJ, "U.S. Puts Sanctions on Oil Network It Says Supports Syria’s Assad," 20 Nov. 2018 Still, the game's attempts at realism can at times obfuscate some narrative choices and arbitrarily deny others. Daniel Starkey, Ars Technica, "Red Dead Redemption II review: Getting muddy in the wide-open frontier," 25 Oct. 2018 But too many parents who read their state’s plan would have every right to think much is obfuscated …. as if their state doesn’t want anyone to know how their students are really doing. Valerie Strauss, Washington Post, "Education Secretary DeVos blames D.C. graduation scandal on ‘top-down pressure’ and fear of ‘Big Ed’," 5 Mar. 2018 The company allegedly didn’t openly communicate results, and at times purposely obfuscated them, to both consumers and the Food and Drug Administration. Cheryl Wischhover, Vox, "Johnson & Johnson accused of hiding the asbestos in its baby powder for decades," 14 Dec. 2018 The Trump administration was perhaps employing a brilliant disinformation campaign; more likely, this was a hopelessly chaotic attempt to obfuscate its own policy. Jonathan Chait, Daily Intelligencer, "The Genesis of Trump’s Family-Separation Policy," 22 June 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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about obfuscate

Listen to Our Podcast about obfuscate

Statistics for obfuscate

Last Updated

11 Apr 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for obfuscate

The first known use of obfuscate was in 1536

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for obfuscate

obfuscate

verb

English Language Learners Definition of obfuscate

formal : to make (something) more difficult to understand

Keep scrolling for more

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

Comments on obfuscate

What made you want to look up obfuscate? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

WORD OF THE DAY

likely to have or produce good results

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Words from Greek and Latin Quiz

  • roman forum
  • Which of the following months comes from a Latin word for “ten”?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

TAKE THE QUIZ
Dictionary Devil

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

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!