[ uhb-skyoor ]
/ əbˈskyʊər /
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See synonyms for: obscure / obscured / obscures / obscuring on Thesaurus.com

adjective, ob·scur·er, ob·scur·est.

verb (used with object), ob·scured, ob·scur·ing.




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“Was” is used for the indicative past tense of “to be,” and “were” is only used for the subjunctive past tense.

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Origin of obscure

First recorded in 1350–1400; Middle English, from Old French oscur, obscur, from Latin obscūrus “dark”

synonym study for obscure

1. See mysterious. 8. See dark.

historical usage of obscure

The adjective obscure first appears in English about 1425 (if not earlier); the verb appears around the same time. The adjective obscure comes from Anglo-French and Middle French oscur, obscur “without light, dark (in color), hard to understand,” from Latin obscūrus “dim, dark, dingy, faint,” an adjective made up of the prefix ob- “toward, against” and the adjective scūrus, which does not occur in Latin.
The verb obscure may simply derive from the English adjective by functional shift (a change in the grammatical function of a word). Alternatively, the verb may derive from Middle French obscurer “to make or become dark” or from Latin obscūrāre “to cover, obscure, overshadow, conceal,” a verb derived from obscūrus.
The unrecorded Latin adjective scūrus comes from the Proto-Indo-European root (s)keu-, (s)kū- (with variants) “to cover, envelop” ( scūrus therefore means “covered over”). In Germanic the variant skeu- forms the base of the noun skeujam “cloud cover, cloud,” becoming skȳ “cloud” in Old Norse, which is the immediate source of English sky (a 13th-century borrowing). The variant skū- forms the noun skūmaz “scum” (because it covers the water), which becomes scum in English.


Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2021

Example sentences from the Web for obscure

British Dictionary definitions for obscure

/ (əbˈskjʊə) /


verb (tr)


a rare word for obscurity

Derived forms of obscure

obscuration (ˌɒbskjʊˈreɪʃən), nounobscurely, adverbobscureness, noun

Word Origin for obscure

C14: via Old French from Latin obscūrus dark
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012