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 obscuration (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 The New York clues have the panel stuck on musicians from that area, but The Masked Singer’s clues tend to be obscure, so Popcorn could be someone who is not so boldly associated with New York... like musician Alana Davis. Ariana Brockington, refinery29.com, "Is The Masked Singer Popcorn Really Taylor Dayne?," 11 Nov. 2020 Forsaking most mainstream news outlets, the app offers links to obscure, fly-by-night news sites or cultish propagandists like The Epoch Times. Jacob Silverman, The New Republic, "Postelection Misinformation and Massacre Threats on Conservatives’ Favorite New Social Media App," 10 Nov. 2020 There is a way to completely obscure someone’s DNA records (and, to be clear, sensitive data sets in general) while still keeping the data useful: by encrypting it. Dario Gil, Scientific American, "How to Preserve the Privacy of Your Genomic Data," 9 Nov. 2020 Though many businesses will be affected by the law — from tech giants like Facebook and Google to obscure ad brokers and small online businesses — few have been vocal in the fight. Sam Dean, Los Angeles Times, "California voters approve Prop. 24, ushering in new rules for online privacy," 3 Nov. 2020 The condemnation of the pin, though, only illustrated how eager Republicans are to find anything, no matter how far a stretch, to obscure attention from Mr. Trump’s language. Jonathan Martin, New York Times, "‘Lock Them All Up’: Trump’s Whitmer Attack Fits a Damaging Pattern," 18 Oct. 2020 Wineries in California, Oregon and Washington have survived severe wildfires before, but the smoke from this year’s blazes has been especially bad — thick enough to obscure vineyards drooping with clusters of grapes almost ready for harvest. NBC News, "Wildfires taint West Coast vineyards with taste of smoke," 24 Sep. 2020 Wineries in California, Oregon and Washington have survived severe wildfires before, but the smoke from this year’s blazes has been especially bad — thick enough to obscure vineyards drooping with clusters of grapes almost ready for harvest. Andrew Selsky, chicagotribune.com, "Wildfires taint West Coast vineyards with the taste of smoke: ‘Kind of like a campfire’," 24 Sep. 2020 Opinions range from Friedmanites who insist CEOs should focus only on shareholders, to cynics who think the stakeholder issue is a public relations smokescreen to obscure corporate misdeeds. Alan Murray, Fortune, "CEOs aren’t promoting stakeholder capitalism for the publicity," 1 Sep. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb The indictment further shows Sittenfeld spent considerable energy discussing how to break up the payments to obscure their origin. Alexander Coolidge, The Enquirer, "'People want to invest in a winning endeavor right?' Indictment: 5 things P.G. Sittenfeld said," 19 Nov. 2020 Give it another few years, maybe by the time Floral Park digs its 100,000th grave — Filson expects the cemetery to hit that number in about 10 years — and weeds will completely obscure his name. Gregg Doyel, The Indianapolis Star, "Doyel: Seeking a legend, finding a monster first.," 18 Nov. 2020 Ahmed’s blackout is meant to obscure information from reaching the public. Jacob Kushner Special Correspondent, Los Angeles Times, "As Ethiopia descends into civil war, civilians by the thousands begin to stream out," 16 Nov. 2020 Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried, a prospective 2022 Democratic gubernatorial candidate, said in a statement Lamb is actually the perfect hire for an administration attempting to obscure its failure in addressing the pandemic. John Haughey, Washington Examiner, "Blogger’s hiring as Florida coronavirus data analyst draws rebuke," 13 Nov. 2020 Meanwhile, experimentalists conducting precision tests may have to build complex shields to obscure the magnetic effect of something as simple as an electric wire running through the wall of their laboratory. The Economist, "Manipulating magnetism Can you generate a magnetic field remotely?," 7 Nov. 2020 Hackers typically launch attacks from compromised machines across various jurisdictions to obscure their tracks. Robert Hackett, Fortune, "Are Chinese spies trying to hack this anticensorship startup? Its execs believe so," 5 Nov. 2020 Meanwhile, Republican senators have done their best to help obscure her positions, despite those positions being the obvious rationale for their supporting her nomination. Ryan Cooper, TheWeek, "Why Republicans lie about their own terrible policies," 15 Oct. 2020 The scams and subsequent law enforcement stings left a stench of disrepute on the broader crypto industry—one that has helped obscure the real progress made by ventures like Filecoin and PolkaDot. Jeff John Roberts, Fortune, "The blockchain industry faces a moment of truth as high-profile projects go live," 21 Oct. 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

20 Nov 2020

Cite this Entry

“Obscure.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/obscure. Accessed 1 Dec. 2020.

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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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