ob·scu·ri·ty | \äb-ˈskyu̇r-ə-tē, 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

Going from obscurity to arena-headlining stars so quickly created considerable upheaval, Sermon said, as the group members tried to comprehend their success and adjust to a new, more hectic, life. Alan Sculley, kansascity, "Imagine Dragons: ‘Evolve’ show is ‘the most complicated production’ they’ve done," 11 July 2018 Every now and then a word emerges from obscurity, or even from nothingness or a merely potential and not actual existence, into sudden popularity. Joseph Epstein, WSJ, "Sometimes the Language Game Needs a Penalty Box," 6 June 2018 Perhaps this was all that there was, toiling in obscurity, beaten continually by those allowed money, equipment, and manpower. Aaron Gilbreath, Longreads, "We Are Scientists," 5 June 2018 Feiffer credits director Dan Mirvish for rescuing the screenplay from obscurity. San Francisco Chronicle, "At 89, artist and writer Jules Feiffer says he’s happier than he’s ever been.," 4 June 2018 Even schlubs can go from obscurity to a trending news story in a matter of seconds. Christian Caryl, star-telegram, "My wedding gift to Meghan and Harry? I'll be sitting this one out.," 18 May 2018 Most of these men — there is not a woman in sight — toil in obscurity, with far less space than the Norwegians and a fraction of the equipment. Author: David Segal, Anchorage Daily News, "Tough job: Norway’s ski wax chief is only noticed when he fails," 14 Feb. 2018 Being rejected would mean the status quo: toiling in the desert in continued obscurity, with a thin profit margin and languishing dreams of building orbital spacecraft. Joe Pappalardo, Popular Mechanics, "The Rocket Man Who Wants To Beat the Billionaires," 14 Oct. 2015 The former Clemson Tiger starred in relative obscurity last season after the Spurs selected him with the second-to-last pick in the 2017 draft. Jeff Mcdonald, San Antonio Express-News, "What to watch for as Spurs summer leaguers hit Las Vegas," 6 July 2018

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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Statistics for obscurity

Last Updated

5 Oct 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for obscurity

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

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More Definitions for obscurity



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, 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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Comments on obscurity

What made you want to look up obscurity? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


a state of commotion or excitement

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