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 The improbable Tim Henderson rose from obscurity to folk hero by rallying the Cardinals with successive 3-point shots against Wichita State. Tim Sullivan, The Courier-Journal, "Top 10 Kentucky sports stories of the decade: from a stripper scandal to a Triple Crown," 23 Dec. 2019 Johnson had been plucked from relative obscurity as chief of patrol in April 2016 when then-Mayor Rahm Emanuel bypassed three finalists chosen by the Chicago Police Board and appointed him superintendent. Jeremy Gorner, chicagotribune.com, "Mayor Lori Lightfoot fires Chicago’s police superintendent weeks before his retirement: ‘Eddie Johnson intentionally lied to me’," 30 Nov. 2019 There are many ways to visualize the size of South Bend, Ind., where Mayor Pete Buttigieg rose from relative obscurity to become one of the leading Democratic contenders for president. BostonGlobe.com, "You're using a browser set to private or incognito mode.," 29 Nov. 2019 Analysis of language data by Oxford shows the rapid rise of the term from relative obscurity to becoming one of the most prominent – and prominently debated – terms of 2019. Doyle Rice, USA TODAY, "'Climate emergency' is Oxford Dictionary's word of the year," 22 Nov. 2019 Last year, the state took over two homes operated by Skyline, which in a span of three years rose from obscurity to obtain control of more than 100 nursing homes nationwide -- and nearly two dozen in Arkansas. Kat Stromquist, Arkansas Online, "Nursing homes hustle to move out 60 residents," 8 Dec. 2019 He was tapped from obscurity to build the 2015 website for Trump’s presidential exploratory committee. Author: Michelle Ye Hee Lee, Anu Narayanswamy, Anchorage Daily News, "Trump’s 2016 campaign was run on a shoestring. His reelection machine is huge - and armed with consultants.," 9 Oct. 2019 But the candidate who emerged from obscurity last year is piquing the interest of at least a handful of Trump supporters that have shown up at his New Hampshire events in recent weeks. Fox News, "Andrew Yang trying to 'peel off' Trump supporters, woo them to 'Yang gang'," 4 Oct. 2019 No one plucked Phoebe Waller-Bridge from obscurity. Ew Staff, EW.com, "The TV It List: 10 storytellers revolutionizing the small screen," 12 Sep. 2019

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

12 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Obscurity.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/obscurity. Accessed 20 January 2020.

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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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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).


not to be intimidated or subdued

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