ob·​scu·​ri·​ty | \ äb-ˈskyu̇r-ə-tē How to pronounce obscurity (audio) , əb- \
plural obscurities

Definition of obscurity

1 : one that is obscure … peppered with quotes from … heavy hitters, as well as some downright obscurities.— Penelope Green
2 : the quality or state of being obscure novels that have faded into obscurity

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Examples of obscurity in a Sentence

In recent years, the tradition has emerged from obscurity. He has been living in relative obscurity in a small town in the mountains. After a promising first novel, she faded into obscurity.
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Recent Examples on the Web Feminist rediscovery risks saving women from obscurity only to conscript them into a reductive triumphal narrative. Helen Lewis, The Atlantic, "Isn’t She Good—For a Woman?," 10 Jan. 2021 Wolford emerged from obscurity to lead Sunday’s win, and Goff has been little more than mediocre over long stretches of play, but the notion seems a bit too radical from here. Bruce Jenkins, SFChronicle.com, "Unleash the hound: It’s Warriors’ Draymond Green against the Clippers," 5 Jan. 2021 The platform lifted new artists from obscurity at a rate never seen before by the music industry. Taylor Lorenz, New York Times, "This Is Why You Heard About TikTok So Much in 2020," 31 Dec. 2020 Although the record-setting propeller fighter that Thacker flew has faded into obscurity, it has not been entirely forgotten. Star Tribune, "Robert Thacker, 102, dies; survived Pearl Harbor to fly in 3 wars," 26 Dec. 2020 The other people inadvertently responsible for strategy in a game that would crown an NBA champion had their own flashbacks to Indiana colleges running this play in obscurity. Ben Cohen, WSJ, "The Case of the NBA’s Most Stolen Play," 21 Dec. 2020 Emma Stone stars as Estella, aka Cruella, opposite Oscar winner Emma Thompson as the Baroness, the head of a prestigious fashion house who plucks Estella from obscurity as a burgeoning designer. Tamara Fuentes, Seventeen, "Check Out All the Big Announcements From Disney Investors Day," 11 Dec. 2020 The Mavericks contest, once an exciting part of every big-wave season (although it wasn’t always held), vanished into obscurity after the sponsoring World Surf League pulled out in August of 2019. Bruce Jenkins, SFChronicle.com, "‘Best day ever at Mavericks’: Kai Lenny, top big-wave surfers savor all-time swell," 9 Dec. 2020 After her death in 1899, however, the French artist—once celebrated as one of the great female painters of the 19th-century—slipped into obscurity. Isis Davis-marks, Smithsonian Magazine, "Rosa Bonheur’s Hyper-Realistic Animal Scenes Transfixed 19th-Century Europe," 9 Dec. 2020

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

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Time Traveler for obscurity

Time Traveler

The first known use of obscurity was in the 14th century

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Statistics for obscurity

Last Updated

16 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

“Obscurity.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/obscurity. Accessed 22 Jan. 2021.

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More Definitions for obscurity


How to pronounce obscurity (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of obscurity

: the state of being unknown or forgotten
: something that is difficult to understand
: the quality of being difficult to understand


ob·​scu·​ri·​ty | \ äb-ˈskyu̇r-ə-tē How to pronounce obscurity (audio) , əb- \
plural obscurities

Kids Definition of obscurity

1 : the state of being difficult to see or understand
2 : the state of being unknown or forgotten He lived in obscurity.
3 : something that is difficult to understand The poems are filled with obscurities.

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