obscure

adjective
ob·scure | \ äb-ˈskyu̇r , 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 , 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 , 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 \ 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

The problem for Democrats is that the connection between the court and those issues, which seems so clear to activists on both sides, may seem obscure to many voters. David Lauter, latimes.com, "As Trump readies Supreme Court pick, Democrats prepare a fight even though a loss is likely," 6 July 2018 Yet, the obscure, small Florida Yards project is finishing up at a time when its surrounding Harbor District area is poised to become perhaps the next big Milwaukee development wave. Tom Daykin, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Milwaukee's Florida Yards sells last lot after three decades — as Harbor District rises," 20 Apr. 2018 As the meeting opened, the vice chair of the board, Karla Clodfelter, tried to downplay the power of the body, which had somehow gone in the past month from fairly obscure to the focus of the governor’s ire. Richard Ruelas, azcentral, "Blow dryers and bullies: How haircuts became a major issue for Gov. Doug Ducey," 5 Apr. 2018 The House is spending more and more time on the obscure and the arcane; the Senate chamber is being turned over for weeks at a time to routine nominations. Washington Post, "Republicans in Congress look to keep a low profile," 5 Mar. 2018 While that hardly qualifies as a crime, something else that went on at the obscure lounge does. Tarpley Hitt, miamiherald, "Miami couple skimmed millions. A Miami airport lounge was illegal operation’s HQ | Miami Herald," 27 Feb. 2018 Because what’s cool about the Salomon Speedcross is the same thing that makes fashion feel fresh and exciting in 2018: an embrace of the technical, the functional, the obscure and the strange-looking. Samuel Hine, GQ, "How Salomon Stumbled Into the Ultimate Fashion Sneaker," 14 Feb. 2018 The first big planned shipment to the U.S. last month was held up at the border because of an obscure law that protects American catfish farmers from cheaper Asian imports. Tara Duggan, SFChronicle.com, "Bay Area men’s plan to market invasive fish from Mexico hits snag in U.S.," 2 July 2018 The details, though, have been surprisingly obscure. The Economist, "At any given time in their lives, people have two dozen regular haunts," 28 June 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

In the end, migrant workers simply splashed paint on buildings, many of them architectural monuments, to obscure their battered state, said Anna A. Davydova, a local urban preservation activist. Ivan Nechepurenko, New York Times, "Peeking Around Corners in the World Cup’s Provincial Cities," 14 July 2018 By the end of April 2016, the Russian officers tied the information passing through the Arizona servers to an overseas computer, in part to obscure any connection to the Russians, the indictment said. Ronald J. Hansen, azcentral, "Arizona servers used by Russian hackers to monitor Democrats, feds say," 13 July 2018 At the same time, not identifying the victims only serves to obscure what actually happened. Matt Ford, The New Republic, "Truth Without Consequences," 13 July 2018 Smugglers sometimes wrap migrants’ shoes in scraps of fabric to try to obscure their footprints. Nicholas Kulish, The Seattle Times, "Human smuggling cat-and-mouse game plays out beyond the U.S.-Mexico border," 9 July 2018 Since launching in 2017, HQ Trivia—and Rogowsky himself—have blossomed into phenomenon, reaching millions of players who tune in twice a day to answer the game’s 12 questions (which range from easy to obscure) in an attempt win money. Time Staff, Time, "The 25 Most Influential People on the Internet," 28 June 2018 But those considerations don’t have to obscure the whole film, which remains a cinematic feat, and movie with tremendous impact on future works. refinery29.com, "Has Roman Polanski Ruined Rosemary's Baby's Legacy? No.," 12 June 2018 Greitens demonized lobbyist gifts while accepting copious amounts of anonymous contributions routed through nonprofits to obscure the sources. Jason Hancock, Bryan Lowry And Steve Vockrodt, kansascity, "Who is Missouri’s next governor? Mike Parson, in many ways Greitens’ polar opposite," 29 May 2018 That won't last long, since someone is trying to obscure the truth of Hannah's death - apparently there are more secrets left undiscovered. Travis M. Andrews, chicagotribune.com, "'13 Reasons Why' Season 2 trailer drops: Here's what we know about where the series goes," 9 May 2018

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

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

Verb

see obscure entry 1

Noun

see obscure entry 1

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Statistics for obscure

Last Updated

18 Sep 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for obscure

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

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More Definitions for obscure

obscure

adjective

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

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 , 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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