(of meaning) not clear or plain; ambiguous, vague, or uncertain: an obscure sentence in the contract.
not clear to the understanding; hard to perceive: obscure motivations.
(of language, style, a speaker, etc.) not expressing the meaning clearly or plainly.
indistinct to the sight or any other sense; not readily seen, heard, etc.; faint.
inconspicuous or unnoticeable: the obscure beginnings of a great movement.
of little or no prominence, note, fame, or distinction: an obscure French artist.
enveloped in, concealed by, or frequenting darkness.
not bright or lustrous; dull or darkish, as color or appearance.
(of a vowel) having the reduced or neutral sound usually represented by the schwa (ə).
to conceal or conceal by confusing (the meaning of a statement, poem, etc.).
to make dark, dim, indistinct, etc.
to reduce or neutralize (a vowel) to the sound usually represented by a schwa (ə).
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.
- ob·scur·ed·ly [uhb-skyoor-id-lee], /əbˈskyʊər ɪd li/, ob·scure·ly, adverb
- ob·scure·ness, noun
- sub·ob·scure, adjective
- sub·ob·scure·ness, noun
- un·ob·scure, adjective
- un·ob·scure·ness, noun
- un·ob·scured, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023
How to use obscure in a sentence
For me, the real gems are value-packed, reasonably priced wines from unheralded regions or from obscure grape varieties.This $14 Italian red is a gem that invites a pairing with a pot roast or pasta | Dave McIntyre | February 12, 2021 | Washington Post
State prosecutors allege that Salsman took efforts to obscure his actions from his legal staff.
Nevertheless, before too much of 2021 passes by, it’s time to name the Top 10 anniversaries worthy of celebration this year — some obscure, some fairly famous, and one that had an unfair advantage helping to make it No.
If last week’s stock market frenzy surrounding GameStop had any public value, it might be that it served as an introduction for many to the once-obscure concept of shorting stocks.
This adaptibility means the algorithm is less likely to break as the world throws new or noisy information its way—like, for example, when rain obscures an autonomous car’s camera.New ‘Liquid’ AI Learns Continuously From Its Experience of the World | Jason Dorrier | January 31, 2021 | Singularity Hub
And too much of a focus on numbers can obscure strategic truths.Pentagon Doesn’t Know How Many People It’s Killed in the ISIS War | Nancy A. Youssef | January 7, 2015 | THE DAILY BEAST
But the authority of his name far exceeds that of our own, famous or obscure though we be.
Astrology and black magic are forbidden in Islam; not an obscure point and one that Monis likely knew.
Whether it was actual ignorance, senility, or some obscure test, it's hard to know.Alfred Hitchcock’s Fade to Black: The Great Director’s Final Days | David Freeman | December 13, 2014 | THE DAILY BEAST
He can barely speak the titles, but manages to let Viridiana and That obscure Object of Desire pass from his lips.Alfred Hitchcock’s Fade to Black: The Great Director’s Final Days | David Freeman | December 13, 2014 | THE DAILY BEAST
When we got to the house we entered an obscure corridor and began to find our way up a dark and narrow staircase.Music-Study in Germany | Amy Fay
Disillusionment cut him to the quick, but had no power to obscure his rosy views of human nature.The Life & Letters of Peter Ilich Tchaikovsky | Modeste Tchaikovsky
He was recalled, and again moved, in calm triumph, from his obscure chambers to the regal palace of the minister.Madame Roland, Makers of History | John S. C. Abbott
It was an hour later that Black Hood came to an obscure little jewelry shop known simply as "Tauber's."
Like a clarion call the note rings in my ears, amidst the din of contending views and obscure phraseology.Prison Memoirs of an Anarchist | Alexander Berkman
British Dictionary definitions for obscure
unclear or abstruse
indistinct, vague, or indefinite
inconspicuous or unimportant
hidden, secret, or remote
(of a vowel) reduced to or transformed into a neutral vowel (ə)
gloomy, dark, clouded, or dim
to make unclear, vague, or hidden
to cover or cloud over
phonetics to pronounce (a vowel) with articulation that causes it to become a neutral sound represented by (ə)
a rare word for obscurity
- obscuration (ˌɒbskjʊˈreɪʃən), noun
- obscurely, adverb
- obscureness, noun
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