Definition of obtuse
1a : not pointed or acute : bluntb (1) of an angle : exceeding 90 degrees but less than 180 degrees (2) : having an obtuse angle an obtuse triangle — see triangle illustrationc of a leaf : rounded at the free end
2a : lacking sharpness or quickness of sensibility or intellect : insensitive, stupid He is too obtuse to take a hint.b : difficult to comprehend : not clear or precise in thought or expression It is also, unfortunately, ill-written, and at times obtuse and often trivial. — Shirley Hazzard
obtuse was our Word of the Day on 06/14/2016. Hear the podcast!
Examples of obtuse in a Sentence
Murdoch's art, like all good art, is highly structured and controlled—a house neat and clean enough to satisfy the most morally obtuse of her upper-class British characters. —Martha C. Nussbaum, New Republic, 31 Dec. 2001 & 7 Jan. 2002
Only the most obtuse missed the main message: humans risked so distorting the natural order that they were sentencing themselves to be destroyed by frost or furnace. —Joseph A. Amato, Dust, 2000
In fact, he was too obtuse even to realize that his assignment to Tejas was a demotion … —James A. Michener, Texas, 1985
… either he, and the other people in his shop, and two people I subsequently ask are incapable of giving directions, or I am too rattled and obtuse to follow them, but I cannot find the police station. —Renata Adler, Pitch Dark, 1983
He is too obtuse to take a hint.
obtuse scissors designed so that young users will not cut themselves
Recent Examples of obtuse from the Web
Until the Trump presidency came along, that seemed like an obtuse strategy (though better than its decades-long isolationist foreign policy).
The results so far are somewhat obtuse, but that could be a problem with the source text rather than QnA Maker, which in all likelihood has not yet read a billion FAQs to learn its art.
This warm and fuzzy program was so obtuse and nonlinear in its methods, that I was faced with my otherwise bright children feeling inferior in math.
Part police procedural and part dystopian thesis about thought crime versus actual crime, the play isn’t entirely successful—often genuinely disturbing yet also sometimes self-satisfied and obtuse.
This is either prurient (is something being implied?) or obtuse (the story explains exactly how the connection between Lee and Schadt was made).
Doyle doesn’t talk down to the audience, though, keeping some of his pop-culture references obscure and obtuse.
These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'obtuse'. Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.
Did You Know?
Obtuse, which comes to us from the Latin word obtusus, meaning "dull" or "blunt," can describe an angle that is not acute or a person who is mentally "dull" or slow of mind. The word has also developed a somewhat controversial sense of "hard to comprehend," probably as a result of confusion with abstruse. This sense of obtuse is well established, and it is now possible to speak of "obtuse language" and "obtuse explanations," as well as "obtuse angles" and "obtuse readers"; however, it may attract some criticism. If you're hesitant about using new meanings of words, you should probably stick with abstruse when you want a word meaning "difficult to understand."
Synonym Discussion of obtuse
OBTUSE Defined for English Language Learners
Definition of obtuse for English Language Learners
: stupid or unintelligent : not able to think clearly or to understand what is obvious or simple
mathematics : not ending in a sharp point : measuring between 90 degrees and 180 degrees
OBTUSE Defined for Kids
Definition of obtuse for Students
1 : measuring more than a right angle
2 : not able to understand something obvious
Medical Definition of obtuse
1: lacking sharpness or quickness of sensibility or intellect
2: not pointed or acute obtuse pain
Seen and Heard
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