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

Several cases that resulted in dismissals for dishonesty stem from employees lying or obfuscating during police investigations of domestic violence or driving under the influence. Julie Small, The Mercury News, "Records show Bay Area prison guard fired for lying about teen sex assault," 30 Aug. 2019 Such investigations are inherently limited: some prospective witnesses might decline to be interviewed; some witnesses might lie, exaggerate, conceal or obfuscate. Michael Mccann, SI.com, "Examining Every Aspect of the Luke Walton Investigation and Considering Next Steps," 27 Aug. 2019 Yes, the enormity and danger of this proposal is obfuscated by the involvement of Trump. Nick Martin, The New Republic, "The Colonizers Have Turned Their Eyes to Greenland," 16 Aug. 2019 As computer scientists envision it, obfuscating a program would require two steps. Quanta Magazine, "A New Design for Cryptography’s Black Box," 2 Sep. 2015 Mr Macri promised to tame soaring prices with tight monetary policy, a problem Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, Argentina’s previous president, had tried to obfuscate by publishing dodgy macroeconomic data and imposing currency controls. The Economist, "Argentina faces the prospect of another default," 15 Aug. 2019 In the telling, the authors illustrate how technical details can enhance delight, rather than obfuscating or deadening it. Alyssa Rosenberg, Washington Post, "The poetry, prose and physics of baseball," 25 July 2019 All used base64 encoding and data compression that obfuscated the data being uploaded. Dan Goodin, Ars Technica, "More on DataSpii: How extensions hide their data grabs—and how they’re discovered," 18 July 2019 Despite Alphabet’s attempts to obfuscate, the market is catching on, as markets tend to do. Adam Seessel, Fortune, "Valuation: I’m a Google Shareholder. Here’s Why I Think More Regulation Would Be Good for Google," 26 July 2019

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

12 Sep 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

recurring in steady succession

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Musical Words Quiz

  • gramophone
  • Which word describes a musical performance marked by the absence of instrumental accompaniment?
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

TAKE THE QUIZ
Word Winder's CrossWinder

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!