ob·​fus·​cate | \ ˈäb-fə-ˌskāt How to pronounce obfuscate (audio) ; äb-ˈfə-ˌskāt, əb- \
obfuscated; obfuscating

Essential Meaning of obfuscate

formal : to make (something) more difficult to understand Politicians keep obfuscating the issues. Their explanations only serve to obfuscate and confuse.

Full Definition of obfuscate

transitive verb

1a : to throw into shadow : darken
b : to make obscure obfuscate the issue officials who … continue to obscure and obfuscate what happened— Mary Carroll
2 : confuse obfuscate the reader

intransitive verb

: to be evasive, unclear, or confusing The suspect often obfuscated during the interrogation.

Other Words from obfuscate

obfuscation \ ˌäb-​(ˌ)fə-​ˈskā-​shən How to pronounce obfuscate (audio) \ noun
obfuscatory \ äb-​ˈfə-​skə-​ˌtȯr-​ē How to pronounce obfuscate (audio) , əb-​ \ adjective

Synonyms & Antonyms for obfuscate



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Try to Understand the Roots of Obfuscate

Obfuscate comes from the Latin prefix ob- (meaning "over" or "completely") and fuscus ("dark-colored"). That fact gives an idea as to how the word can refer to making something difficult to see or understand—much like how dark, dirty water makes it hard to see the bottom.

Examples of obfuscate in a Sentence

Politicians keep obfuscating the issues. Their explanations only serve to obfuscate and confuse.
Recent Examples on the Web But the limitations of Hollywood screenwriting and the choice of a comet as a metaphor tend to obfuscate the true nature of the problem. Tim Mcdonnell, Quartz, 29 Dec. 2021 The second are transactions sent between wallets by the same user trying to obfuscate their identity, a common tactic for those seeking anonymity. Paul Vigna, WSJ, 20 Dec. 2021 Some people deliberately lie and obfuscate on social media. Bonnie Kristian, The Week, 29 July 2021 Lab leak theorists also think this is suspicious—perhaps an attempt to obfuscate. Lindsay Beyerstein, The New Republic, 10 Dec. 2021 In the rapidly evolving metaverse, Meta could be unlocking a plethora of new channels to obfuscate illicit-origin commerce. Timothy Lloyd, The New Republic, 29 Nov. 2021 Some critics, including the company’s former head of civic integrity, the division that developed the metrics Facebook shared Tuesday, said on Twitter recently that these numbers can obfuscate the actual story. Washington Post, 8 Nov. 2021 Campaign literature and answers on candidate questionnaires often intentionally obfuscate their viewpoints. Hannah Drown, cleveland, 23 Oct. 2021 The floor is swamped with huge projections — words (often quotes from W.E.B. Du Bois), faces (of Black men), and shifting slices of light — many of which obfuscate the dancing being done. Helen Shaw, Vulture, 29 Sep. 2021

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

1536, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1a

History and Etymology for obfuscate

borrowed from Late Latin obfuscātus, offuscātus, past participle of obfuscāre, offuscāre "to obscure, darken, depreciate," from Latin ob-, perfective prefix + -fuscāre, verbal derivative of fuscus "dark-colored, somber, dark-skinned or -complected" — more at ob-, dusk entry 1

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The first known use of obfuscate was in 1536

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Last Updated

11 Jan 2022

Cite this Entry

“Obfuscate.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/obfuscate. Accessed 24 Jan. 2022.

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Nglish: Translation of obfuscate for Spanish Speakers


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