ob·fus·cate | \ˈäb-fə-ˌskāt; 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 \ noun
obfuscatory \äb-ˈfə-skə-ˌtȯr-ē, əb- \ adjective

Synonyms & Antonyms for obfuscate


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


clarify, clear (up), illuminate

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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

Officials in Pyongyang are seeking to obfuscate the true number of their weapons facilities, and U.S. intelligence officials believe that more than just one hidden site exists. Washington Post, "North Korea working to conceal key aspects of its nuclear program, U.S. officials say," 2 July 2018 Its provenance is murky, obfuscated by a private agreement, pseudonyms and evolving explanations. William K. Rashbaum, Danny Hakim, Brian M. Rosenthal, Emily Flitter And Jesse Drucker, New York Times, "How Michael Cohen, Trump’s Fixer, Built a Shadowy Business Empire," 5 May 2018 For nearly a month at this World Cup, Russia had managed to bend, tweak and obfuscate one simple fact—a state secret hidden in plain sight. Joshua Robinson, WSJ, "Russia Is Out of the Russian World Cup," 7 July 2018 Liberals leading the charge against Mr. Trump’s potential picks quickly dismissed Ms. Collins’s remarks, suggesting that the senator was either being hoodwinked or knowingly obfuscating her position. Nicholas Fandos, New York Times, "Susan Collins, Pivotal Moderate, Says ‘Hostility’ to Roe Would Sway Her Vote," 1 July 2018 Officials in Pyongyang are seeking to obfuscate the true number of their weapons facilities, and U.S. intelligence officials believe that more than just one hidden site exists. Author: Ellen Nakashima, Joby Warrick, Anchorage Daily News, "North Korea plotting to keep arsenal, U.S. intelligence officials say," 1 July 2018 The legal process could also force companies to reveal incriminating information about their efforts to obfuscate their role in global warming. Umair Irfan, Vox, "Why Colorado thinks it has a chance to make oil companies pay for climate change," 5 July 2018 One of the similarities between the recent phishing campaigns and the ones leading up to Olympic Destroyer is a technique to obfuscate malicious Powershell commands. Dan Goodin, Ars Technica, "Hackers who sabotaged the Olympic games return for more mischief," 19 June 2018 The complexity, along with the Kim regime's history of obfuscating its true plans, will make for a massive challenge, even if everything goes right at the June 12 summit in Singapore and in the months after that. Jenna Mclaughlin, CNN, "Getting the deal is only half the Battle: US fears fact-checking Kim Jong Un post summit," 10 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.

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First Known Use of obfuscate

1536, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1a

History and Etymology for obfuscate

Late Latin obfuscatus, past participle of obfuscare, from Latin ob- in the way + fuscus dark brown — more at ob-, dusk

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Statistics for obfuscate

Last Updated

10 Oct 2018

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Time Traveler for obfuscate

The first known use of obfuscate was in 1536

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English Language Learners Definition of obfuscate

: to make (something) more difficult to understand

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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).


evasion of direct action or statement

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