adjective, ob·scur·er, ob·scur·est.

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


Origin of obscure

1350–1400; Middle English < Old French oscur, obscur < Latin obscūrus dark
Related formsob·scur·ed·ly [uhb-skyoor-id-lee] /əbˈskyʊər ɪd li/, ob·scure·ly, adverbob·scure·ness, nounsub·ob·scure, adjectivesub·ob·scure·ly, adverbsub·ob·scure·ness, nounun·ob·scure, adjectiveun·ob·scure·ly, adverbun·ob·scure·ness, nounun·ob·scured, adjective

Synonyms for obscure

Synonym study

1. See mysterious. 8. See dark.

Antonyms for obscure

1. certain. 4. clear. 6. noted. 7. conspicuous. 8. bright.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for obscure

Contemporary Examples of obscure

Historical Examples of obscure

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

verb (tr)

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
Derived Formsobscuration (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

Word Origin and History for obscure

c.1400, "dark," figuratively "morally unenlightened; gloomy," from Old French obscur, oscur "dark, clouded, gloomy; dim, not clear" (12c.) and directly from Latin obscurus "dark, dusky, shady," figuratively "unknown; unintelligible; hard to discern; from insignificant ancestors," from ob "over" (see ob-) + -scurus "covered," from PIE *(s)keu- "to cover, conceal" (see sky). Related: Obscurely.


early 15c., "to cover (something), cloud over," from obscure (adj.) or else from Middle French obscurer, from Latin obscurare "to make dark, darken, obscure," from obscurus. Related: Obscured; obscuring.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper