ob·​scu·​ran·​tism | \ äb-ˈskyu̇r-ən-ˌti-zəm How to pronounce obscurantism (audio) , əb-; ˌäb-skyu̇-ˈran- \

Definition of obscurantism

1 : opposition to the spread of knowledge : a policy of withholding knowledge from the general public
2a : a style (as in literature or art) characterized by deliberate vagueness or abstruseness
b : an act or instance of obscurantism

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from obscurantism

obscurantist \ äb-​ˈskyu̇r-​ən-​tist How to pronounce obscurantist (audio) , əb-​ ; ˌäb-​skyu̇-​ˈran-​tist \ noun or adjective

Examples of obscurantism in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web The obscurantism isn’t confined to talking heads and detached national politicians, either. Tobias Hoonhout, National Review, "Talking Heads Finally Accept Reality of Riots — Only to Pin Blame on White Nationalists and Russians," 3 Sep. 2020 Peters seemed to others to be a genius at two things: mimicking the verbal pretentiousness and obscurantism of academic parlance and sweeping naïve young women off their feet by means of an alchemy that remained mysterious to everyone else. New York Times, "How a Fake Priest Duped Oxford and a World-Famous Historian," 14 Feb. 2020 Some early reviewers of The Second Sleep, which was published in the U.K. at the start of September, gave the impression that Harris had issued a rather straightforward warning against the threat of religious obscurantism and fanaticism. John Wilson, National Review, "A Post-Apocalyptic Tale with a Twist," 5 Dec. 2019 The secular Republic—as defended by Sarkozy, Hollande, and then Valls, along with numerous intellectuals and editorial writers—conveniently united the fight against Islamist obscurantism in France with that in Afghanistan. Rony Brauman, Harper's magazine, "Salable Virtues," 10 Apr. 2019 Some of his ire is justified—there is a lot of obscurantism in the world—but most works to bypass rather than engage. Samuel Moyn, The New Republic, "Hype for the Best," 19 Mar. 2018 This started to take effect even before the Internet took off, on account of crate-digging, esotericism and obscurantism, and the burgeoning reissue industry. Bruce Sterling, WIRED, "Musica Globalista: the farewell essay by Simon Reynolds, ‘Here Comes Everything’," 2 Sep. 2011

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'obscurantism.' 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 obscurantism

1834, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about obscurantism

Time Traveler for obscurantism

Time Traveler

The first known use of obscurantism was in 1834

See more words from the same year

Statistics for obscurantism

Last Updated

8 Sep 2020

Cite this Entry

“Obscurantism.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/obscurantism. Accessed 23 Sep. 2020.

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for obscurantism


How to pronounce obscurantism (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of obscurantism

formal : the practice of keeping knowledge or understanding about something from people : the policy of not letting people know something

Comments on obscurantism

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


Test Your Vocabulary

Homophone Quiz

  • three bears two of them look like theyre whispering to a third bear who looks chuffed to be the center of attention
  • In order to judge how people felt, the senator's office hired a firm to take a ______.
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Dictionary Devil

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

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!