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 obfuscate (audio) \ noun
obfuscatory \ äb-​ˈfə-​skə-​ˌtȯr-​ē How to pronounce obfuscate (audio) , əb-​ \ adjective

Synonyms & Antonyms for obfuscate

Synonyms

Antonyms

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 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 Ubisoft is well known for publishing games that try their level best to obfuscate any discernible political position, even, incredibly, in games about the United States’ war on drugs or the modern shape of its religious and nationalist extremism. Reid Mccarter, Wired, "Watch Dogs: Legion Tackles Dystopia—That It's a Part Of," 19 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.

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

Time Traveler for obfuscate

Time Traveler

The first known use of obfuscate was in 1536

See more words from the same year

Listen to Our Podcast about obfuscate

Statistics for obfuscate

Cite this Entry

“Obfuscate.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/obfuscate. Accessed 17 Apr. 2021.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for obfuscate

obfuscate

verb

English Language Learners Definition of obfuscate

formal : to make (something) more difficult to understand

More from Merriam-Webster on obfuscate

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for 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

Test Your Vocabulary

The Exceptions Quiz III

  • one green toy robot amidst many red toy robots
  • Which of these words does not mean "nonsense"?
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

TAKE THE QUIZ
 AlphaBear 2

Spell words. Make bears.

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!