(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
Old school video game “fog” and darkness would obscure the darkest regions of the game, most notably the aforementioned Valley of Defilement, which set the bog standard for similar levels, like the infamous “Blighttown” of “Dark Souls.”‘Demon’s Souls’ review: The ideal PlayStation 5 launch game | Gene Park | November 20, 2020 | Washington Post
Why Perdue got interested in an obscure tax regulation, which would impact at most only a small set of the richest Americans, is unclear.Georgia Senator David Perdue Privately Pushed for a Tax Break for Rich Sports Teamowners | by Robert Faturechi and Justin Elliott | November 20, 2020 | ProPublica
The company did not reveal how effective its labels are, except to say that when a label obscures a post, 95 percent of people do not click to see what is behind the warning screen.Facebook says it labeled 180 million debunked posts ahead of the election | Rachel Lerman, Heather Kelly | November 19, 2020 | Washington Post
Amplitudeologists argue that the field picture is obscuring simpler mathematical patterns.
High and low, popular and obscure, new and old, holy and profane, Trebek put all of them on equal terms.Remembering Alex Trebek, The Man With All The Answers | Oliver Roeder | November 9, 2020 | FiveThirtyEight
A tugboat improbably sits high on the bank, obscured by tall grass, a broken oil rig hangs over the water nearby.
From the height of 700 feet, a lush uniform green obscured the destruction unfolding below him.‘Argo’ in the Congo: The Ghosts of the Stanleyville Hostage Crisis | Nina Strochlic | November 23, 2014 | THE DAILY BEAST
People were singing the national anthem as the whole front of the National Palace was obscured by a smoke cloud.
His face was partially obscured by a bandana and a baseball cap, from beneath which his long ponytail hung limply.
He was captivated by footage of her escape through the hazy entryway of the supermarket, which was obscured by pepper spray.Westgate's Chilling Security Video Reveals Shopping Mall Bloodbath | Nina Strochlic | September 15, 2014 | THE DAILY BEAST
Well, the pudding moment arrived, and a huge slice almost obscured from sight the plate before us.The Book of Anecdotes and Budget of Fun; | Various
Any epithelial cell may be so granular from degenerative changes that the nucleus is obscured.A Manual of Clinical Diagnosis | James Campbell Todd
Like a lifted veil there rose up something that had hitherto obscured his vision.Three More John Silence Stories | Algernon Blackwood
The gloom of approaching night was deepened by the inky clouds that obscured the sky.The Floating Light of the Goodwin Sands | R.M. Ballantyne
It is curious that the close o is heard only in the infrequent diphthong óu, or as an obscured, unaccented final.Frdric Mistral | Charles Alfred Downer
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