obscure

adjective
ob·​scure | \ äb-ˈskyu̇r How to pronounce obscure (audio) , əb- \

Definition of obscure

 (Entry 1 of 3)

1a : dark, dim the obscure dusk of the shuttered room
b : shrouded in or hidden by darkness standing obscure in the deepest shade
c : not clearly seen or easily distinguished : faint obscure markings
2 : not readily understood or clearly expressed also : mysterious a slough of pretentious and obscure jargon — Philip Howard
3 : relatively unknown: such as
a : remote, secluded an obscure village
b : not prominent or famous an obscure poet
4 : constituting the unstressed vowel \ə\ or having unstressed \ə\ as its value

obscure

verb
ob·​scure | \ äb-ˈskyu̇r How to pronounce obscure (audio) , əb- \
obscured; obscuring

Definition of obscure (Entry 2 of 3)

transitive verb

1 : to make dark, dim, or indistinct The soot on the lampshade obscured the light.
2 : to conceal or hide by or as if by covering … snow on glaciers can obscure deep crevasses.— Tom Simon
3 : to reduce (a vowel) to the value \ə\

obscure

noun
ob·​scure | \ äb-ˈskyu̇r How to pronounce obscure (audio) , əb- \

Definition of obscure (Entry 3 of 3)

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Other Words from obscure

Adjective

obscurely adverb
obscureness noun

Verb

obscuration \ ˌäb-​skyu̇-​ˈrā-​shən How to pronounce obscure (audio) \ noun

Choose the Right Synonym for obscure

Adjective

obscure, dark, vague, enigmatic, cryptic, ambiguous, equivocal mean not clearly understandable. obscure implies a hiding or veiling of meaning through some inadequacy of expression or withholding of full knowledge. obscure poems dark implies an imperfect or clouded revelation often with ominous or sinister suggestion. muttered dark hints of revenge vague implies a lack of clear formulation due to inadequate conception or consideration. a vague sense of obligation enigmatic stresses a puzzling, mystifying quality. enigmatic occult writings cryptic implies a purposely concealed meaning. cryptic hints of hidden treasure ambiguous applies to language capable of more than one interpretation. an ambiguous directive equivocal applies to language left open to differing interpretations with the intention of deceiving or evading. moral precepts with equivocal phrasing

Examples of obscure in a Sentence

Adjective Many people shared an obscure sense of gratification that [Dylan] Thomas had died young, as a poet should. — Adam Kirsch, New Yorker, 5 July 2004 But by 1830 the Boston Mission Board was desperate enough that it targeted an obscure sect of Oriental Christians, the Nestorians in faraway Iran, as a possibility for conversion. — Robert D. Kaplan, The Arabists, 1993 I knew they were special from their jeans and T-shirts, their knowing, ironic looks when obscure works of literature were referred to. — Julia Alvarez, How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents, 1991 Now at last Bacon could refer when he chose to his father's high position and his father's service—and no man could say it was done for self-aggrandizement, as a son who is obscure bespeaks the glory of past forebears. — Catherine Drinker Bowen, Francis Bacon, 1963 The movie is full of obscure references that only pop culture enthusiasts will understand. The origins of the language are obscure. Verb Throughout this book, the ground of fact becomes obscured entirely by a deep layer of speculative quicksand. — Helen Vendler, New Republic, 10 June 2002 But evening comes or even noon and some combination of nervous tensions obscures my memories of what whiskey costs me in the way of physical and intellectual well-being. — John Cheever, New Yorker, 13 Aug. 1990 … [Mr. Schuller's] … "Early Jazz" brought a sometimes Olympian precision to writing about an art that has often languished in the whale's belly of sociology, obscured by pretension and blubbery thinking. — Stanley Crouch, New York Times Book Review, 2 Apr. 1989 It was eight o'clock when we landed; we walked for a short time on the shore enjoying the transitory light, and then retired to the inn and contemplated the lovely scene of waters, woods, and mountains, obscured in darkness, yet still displaying their black outlines. — Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley, Frankenstein, 1818 The true history has been obscured by legends about what happened. They accused the company of trying to obscure the fact that the product poses a health risk. Noun … who shall … through the palpable obscure find out his uncouth way … ? — John Milton, Paradise Lost, 1667
Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective More obscure but no less enterprising, farmers and fishermen show off juicy apples or prize lobsters in short videos, digital showmanship accompanied by new delivery networks that allow city dwellers to procure the produce. The Economist, "The great mall of China The next big thing in retail comes with Chinese characteristics," 30 Dec. 2020 Evan Rothstein has lived a relatively obscure life the past nine years as an assistant to four different Detroit Lions coaches, working in the shadows to help prepare the team for games. Dave Birkett, Detroit Free Press, "Detroit Lions' Evan Rothstein 'one of those guys that kind of crunches all the numbers'," 24 Dec. 2020 Those efforts have been made easier in some ways by President Trump’s election challenges, which have shined a light on previously obscure offices like county clerks and election boards. Gabriel T. Rubin, WSJ, "State Party Democrats Look to Avoid Obama-Era Repeat," 18 Dec. 2020 The more obscure selections come with tutorials; there are also A.I. opponents, at varying degrees of competence, for those players without willing competition. Simon Parkin, The New Yorker, "The Best Video Games of 2020," 18 Dec. 2020 With unprecedented interest in the normally obscure panel, the FDA broadcast the meeting via Youtube, and thousands logged on. Arkansas Online, "U.S. panel endorses widespread use of Pfizer covid-19 vaccine," 11 Dec. 2020 With unprecedented interest in the normally obscure panel, the FDA broadcast the meeting via Youtube, and thousands logged on to follow the discussion. The Associated Press, NOLA.com, "U.S. experts convene to decide whether to endorse Pfizer's coronavirus vaccine: Watch live," 10 Dec. 2020 Its inaccessibility kept Jalapão obscure—until the debut of O Outro Lado do Paraíso (The Other Side of Paradise), a popular 2017 soap opera that set its characters’ love triangles and land disputes in the park. Jamie Ditaranto, Travel, "The paradise in Brazil you don’t know—yet," 10 Dec. 2020 There were also storytellers, who sought to move the discussion forward in sometimes obscure, sometimes inspiring ways. Lettie Prell, Wired, "The Future of Work: ‘Collaborative Configurations of Minds’ by Lettie Prell," 4 Dec. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb But social media followings shouldn't obscure all the reasons why a carnivore diet isn't a good idea. Jaclyn London, Ms, Rd, Good Housekeeping, "What You Need to Know About the Carnivore Diet," 14 Dec. 2020 Stoltenberg emphasized that such climate cooperation shouldn’t obscure the deeper fissures between the Chinese Communist regime and Western capitals. Joel Gehrke, Washington Examiner, "NATO chief warns: ‘China is investing massively in new weapons’," 1 Dec. 2020 The media nonetheless tends to obscure how their conflicts are often more about style, temperament or decorum than about substantive policy disagreements. Mugambi Jouet, The New Republic, "The Trump Cult Is Loyal to an Ideology, Not the Man," 26 June 2020 That company was the subject of a complaint to the Federal Election Commission earlier this year that accused it of laundering funds to obscure the ultimate beneficiary of Trump campaign spending. Star Tribune, "Trump cushions blow of defeat by raising huge sums of money from supporters," 18 Dec. 2020 But those dramatic moments obscure the more devastating and silent changes. Bill Mckibben, The New Yorker, "Where We Stand on Climate," 11 Dec. 2020 These mistakes obscure the extremists’ true danger. Alexander Hinton, The Conversation, "5 reasons not to underestimate far-right extremists," 30 Oct. 2020 Hazy and noxious clouds obscure the hot land below. Arkansas Online, "OPINION | CHRISTOPHER COKINOS: Hidden signs of life," 3 Oct. 2020 But don’t let the good news obscure the economy’s urgent need for additional government support. Michael R. Strain, Star Tribune, "Don't be fooled. The coronavirus economy still needs help.," 18 Nov. 2020

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

Adjective

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Verb

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Noun

1667, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for obscure

Adjective, Verb, and Noun

Middle English, from Anglo-French oscur, obscur, from Latin obscurus

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Time Traveler for obscure

Time Traveler

The first known use of obscure was in the 15th century

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Statistics for obscure

Last Updated

13 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

“Obscure.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/obscure. Accessed 16 Jan. 2021.

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More Definitions for obscure

obscure

adjective
How to pronounce obscure (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of obscure

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: not well-known : not known to most people
: difficult to understand : likely to be understood by only a few people
: difficult or impossible to know completely and with certainty

obscure

verb
How to pronounce obscure (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of obscure (Entry 2 of 2)

: to make (something) difficult to understand or know : to make (something) obscure
: to hide or cover (something) : to be in front of (something) so that it cannot be seen

obscure

adjective
ob·​scure | \ äb-ˈskyu̇r How to pronounce obscure (audio) , əb- \

Kids Definition of obscure

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : not easy to see : faint an obscure light
2 : hidden from view an obscure village
3 : not easily understood or clearly expressed I struggled with an obscure chapter in the book.
4 : not outstanding or famous It was written by an obscure poet.

obscure

verb
obscured; obscuring

Kids Definition of obscure (Entry 2 of 2)

: to make difficult to see or understand Clouds drifted across the sky, obscuring the thin sliver of moon.— Brian Jacques, Redwall

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Comments on obscure

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