[uh b-skyoo r-i-tee]

noun, plural ob·scu·ri·ties.

the state or quality of being obscure.
the condition of being unknown: He lived in obscurity for years before winning acclaim.
uncertainty of meaning or expression; ambiguity.
an unknown or unimportant person or thing.
darkness; dimness; indistinctness.

Origin of obscurity

1470–80; late Middle English < Middle French obscurite < Latin obscūritās, equivalent to obscūr(us) obscure + -itās -ity
Related formsnon·ob·scu·ri·ty, noun, plural non·ob·scu·ri·ties.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for obscurity

Contemporary Examples of obscurity

Historical Examples of obscurity

  • Her great distress was to realise that she was alone in the obscurity at such moments.

    The Dream

    Emile Zola

  • Obscurity of station or of birth has no tendency to prelude the favour of God.

  • Troubled as the future was, it was the unknown future, and in its obscurity there was ignorant hope.

    A Tale of Two Cities

    Charles Dickens

  • To some, obscurity itself is attractive, from the hope that worthiness is the cause of it.

    A Dish Of Orts

    George MacDonald

  • And Gervaise carefully took another ten steps in the obscurity.


    Emile Zola

British Dictionary definitions for obscurity


noun plural -ties

the state or quality of being obscure
an obscure person or thing
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 obscurity

late 15c., "absence of light;" 1610s with meaning "condition of being unknown;" from obscure (adj.) + -ity; or else from Middle French obscurité, variant of Old French oscureté "darkness, gloom; vagueness, confusion; insignificance" (14c.), from Latin obscuritatem (nominative obscuritas) "darkness, indistinctness, uncertainty," from obscurus.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper