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 obfuscate (audio) \ noun
obfuscatory \ äb-​ˈfə-​skə-​ˌtȯr-​ē How to pronounce obfuscate (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 If many Alices sell tokenized, pirated copies of the Zapruder film to many Bobs, this bombs the blockchain with many transactions that obfuscate the fact that these might be pirated versions. Rick Prelinger, Wired, "NFTs and AI Are Unsettling the Very Concept of History," 20 Apr. 2021 The complaint details the lengths Ulbricht took to obfuscate the transfer of the funds and the forensic expertise that finally unraveled the true origins of the bitcoin. Dan Goodin, Ars Technica, "The feds just seized Silk Road’s $1 billion stash of bitcoin," 5 Nov. 2020 The Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation arm assisted in tracking down the intricate scheme to obfuscate the recipients of the proceeds. Dan Goodin, Ars Technica, "The feds just seized Silk Road’s $1 billion stash of bitcoin," 5 Nov. 2020 Tycoons also use them to obfuscate their business practices. Joshua Berlinger, CNN, "The Wan Chai connection: The Washington-accused drug lords, gun runners and dictators' financiers tied to one Hong Kong district," 10 Dec. 2020 Haven’t those who’ve worked to obfuscate the interests and incentives involved in shaping political outcomes contributed to our epistemological crisis? Osita Nwanevu, The New Republic, "Barack Obama Doesn’t Have the Answers," 19 Nov. 2020 Stakeholder capitalism is used as a way to obfuscate what counts as success in business. Alexander William Salter, WSJ, "Profit Keeps Corporate Leaders Honest," 8 Dec. 2020 In a recent paper, economists Dongya Koh, Raül Santaeulàlia‐Llopis, and Yu Zheng argue that changes in national accounting practices obfuscate the relative earnings of employers and employees. Daniel Tenreiro, National Review, "Are Corporations Shortchanging Workers?," 2 Dec. 2020 But Parler’s design seems to diffuse and obfuscate these types of collective happenings. Los Angeles Times, "Column: Parler’s vibe is MAGA-red and unreal. Extremism by design?," 25 Nov. 2020

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

29 Apr 2021

Cite this Entry

“Obfuscate.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/obfuscate. Accessed 15 May. 2021.

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English Language Learners Definition of obfuscate

formal : to make (something) more difficult to understand

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