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

But what started out as an easy-if-not-obscure way to make a buck is quickly growing into a cutthroat pursuit for quarry. Anna-sofia Lesiv, The Seattle Times, "The cutthroat turf war behind the race to charge Bay Area electric scooters," 10 July 2018 The results can be fascinatingly difficult to pin down: obscure, straightforward, happy, somber, modern and old-fashioned all at once—and often veer into weirdness. Sidney Lawrence, WSJ, "A Muse Embedded in Mystery," 22 June 2018 Supreme dug deep into the Swoosh’s archive and picked the more-than-a-little-obscure Air Streak Spectrum Plus to remix—and then covered the whole damn thing in flames. Tyler Watamanuk, GQ, "This Supreme x Nike Sneaker Is Literally Lit," 11 June 2018 Last week, news broke that an A-list celebrity had waded into the waters of more obscure, and — brace yourself — more interesting celebrities. Rebecca Farley, refinery29.com, "The Weird & Wonderful Pairing Of Pete Davidson & Ariana Grande," 1 June 2018 Garrel keeps many of the details obscure, and various important events take place offscreen—but on the intense emotional states the narrative engenders. Ben Sachs, Chicago Reader, "L’Enfant Secret is so intimate it feels like a confession," 25 May 2018 The organizing principles of the collective are initially obscure, but one thing is plain enough – the mechanism that sustains the operation is a brewery. Gary Thompson, Philly.com, "'The Endless': Something's brewing at a cult in this spooky-kooky indie | Movie review," 2 May 2018 The case, while obscure to most Americans, had attracted an onslaught of legal papers from major companies and trade groups on both sides of the system Congress created in 2011. Richard Wolf, USA TODAY, "Supreme Court upholds patent review process in victory for tech companies," 24 Apr. 2018 The official photos of T-1 from Boeing carefully obscure major design details, though spy shots of the aircraft have started to leak out. Jay Bennett, Popular Mechanics, "Boeing Tests Its MQ-25 'Stingray' Prototype Tanker for U.S. Navy Carriers," 8 Mar. 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

16 Oct 2018

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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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