abstruse

adjective
ab·​struse | \ əb-ˈstrüs How to pronounce abstruse (audio) , ab- \

Definition of abstruse

formal
: difficult to comprehend : recondite the abstruse calculations of mathematicians abstruse concepts/ideas/theories

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Other Words from abstruse

abstrusely adverb
abstruseness noun

Synonyms & Antonyms for abstruse

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Obtuse vs. Abstruse

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."

Latin Ties Things Together With Abstruse

Look closely at the following Latin verbs, all of which are derived from the verb "trudere" ("to push"): "extrudere," "intrudere," "obtrudere," "protrudere." Each of these Latin verbs has an English descendant whose meaning involves pushing or thrusting. Another "trudere" offspring, abstrudere, meaning "to push away" or "to conceal," gave English abstrude, meaning "to thrust away." But that verb didn't make it past the 17th century. The "abstrudere" descendant that did survive is "abstruse," an adjective that recalls the meaning of its Latin parent abstrusus, meaning "concealed."

Examples of abstruse in a Sentence

Her subject matter is abstruse. you're not the only one who finds Einstein's theory of relativity abstruse
Recent Examples on the Web The procedures are so abstruse that a parliamentarian must sit below the presiding officer and, essentially, tell him or her what to say. Margaret Talbot, The New Yorker, 11 Aug. 2021 The procedures are so abstruse that a parliamentarian must sit below the presiding officer and, essentially, tell him or her what to say. Margaret Talbot, The New Yorker, 11 Aug. 2021 The procedures are so abstruse that a parliamentarian must sit below the presiding officer and, essentially, tell him or her what to say. Margaret Talbot, The New Yorker, 11 Aug. 2021 The procedures are so abstruse that a parliamentarian must sit below the presiding officer and, essentially, tell him or her what to say. Margaret Talbot, The New Yorker, 11 Aug. 2021 The procedures are so abstruse that a parliamentarian must sit below the presiding officer and, essentially, tell him or her what to say. Margaret Talbot, The New Yorker, 11 Aug. 2021 The procedures are so abstruse that a parliamentarian must sit below the presiding officer and, essentially, tell him or her what to say. Richard Brod, The New Yorker, 3 Aug. 2021 If the bank’s lawyers are right, the plot was extraordinarily abstruse. Dexter Filkins, The New Yorker, 7 Oct. 2020 Forget the expertise and abstruse calculations for a moment. Erik Sherman, Fortune, 20 Mar. 2020

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

circa 1549, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for abstruse

borrowed from Latin abstrūsus "concealed, recondite," from past participle of abstrūdere "to conceal," from abs- (variant of ab- ab- before c- and t-) + trūdere "to push, thrust" — more at threat entry 1

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Time Traveler for abstruse

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The first known use of abstruse was circa 1549

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Dictionary Entries Near abstruse

abstriction

abstruse

abstrusity

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Last Updated

18 Oct 2021

Cite this Entry

“Abstruse.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/abstruse. Accessed 23 Oct. 2021.

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