follow Dictionary.com

Stories We Like: Novels For Language Lovers

obscure

[uh b-skyoo r] /əbˈskyʊər/
adjective, obscurer, obscurest.
1.
(of meaning) not clear or plain; ambiguous, vague, or uncertain:
an obscure sentence in the contract.
2.
not clear to the understanding; hard to perceive:
obscure motivations.
3.
(of language, style, a speaker, etc.) not expressing the meaning clearly or plainly.
4.
indistinct to the sight or any other sense; not readily seen, heard, etc.; faint.
5.
inconspicuous or unnoticeable:
the obscure beginnings of a great movement.
6.
of little or no prominence, note, fame, or distinction:
an obscure French artist.
7.
far from public notice, worldly affairs, or important activities; remote; retired:
an obscure little town.
8.
lacking in light or illumination; dark; dim; murky:
an obscure back room.
9.
enveloped in, concealed by, or frequenting darkness.
10.
not bright or lustrous; dull or darkish, as color or appearance.
11.
(of a vowel) having the reduced or neutral sound usually represented by the schwa (ə).
verb (used with object), obscured, obscuring.
12.
to conceal or conceal by confusing (the meaning of a statement, poem, etc.).
13.
to make dark, dim, indistinct, etc.
14.
to reduce or neutralize (a vowel) to the sound usually represented by a schwa (ə).
noun
15.
Origin
1350-1400
1350-1400; Middle English < Old French oscur, obscur < Latin obscūrus dark
Related forms
obscuredly
[uh b-skyoo r-id-lee] /əbˈskyʊər ɪd li/ (Show IPA),
obscurely, adverb
obscureness, noun
subobscure, adjective
subobscurely, adverb
subobscureness, noun
unobscure, adjective
unobscurely, adverb
unobscureness, noun
unobscured, adjective
Synonyms
1. doubtful, dubious. See mysterious. 4. blurred, veiled. 6. undistinguished, unnoted, unknown. 7. secluded, inconspicuous, unnoticeable, unnoticed. 8. cloudy, dusky, somber. See dark.
Antonyms
1. certain. 4. clear. 6. noted. 7. conspicuous. 8. bright.
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
Cite This Source
Examples from the web for obscure
  • Most years, because of their brief duration, moonlight or cloudy conditions obscure the show.
  • Some of the waterways featured are quite tranquil in nature while others are remote and obscure.
  • But the bay's murky waters could obscure the views of submerged monuments.
  • So dollars spent on the charismatic panda can have an equally beneficial effect on the obscure giant salamander.
  • During the rainy season, however, the spray plume can obscure the view of the falls themselves.
  • There may even be multiple collisions that obscure evidence of one another.
  • The hitch is that there's always the chance a patch of bad weather could obscure the occultation entirely.
  • Our unknown travelers may have chosen the burial spot because it was obscure-or because it was conspicuous.
  • But other ailments-some famous, some obscure-pose increasingly serious hazards.
  • Volcanism has been the prime suspect, because lava flows can fill in and obscure craters.
British Dictionary definitions for obscure

obscure

/əbˈskjʊə/
adjective
1.
unclear or abstruse
2.
indistinct, vague, or indefinite
3.
inconspicuous or unimportant
4.
hidden, secret, or remote
5.
(of a vowel) reduced to or transformed into a neutral vowel (ə)
6.
gloomy, dark, clouded, or dim
verb (transitive)
7.
to make unclear, vague, or hidden
8.
to cover or cloud over
9.
(phonetics) to pronounce (a vowel) with articulation that causes it to become a neutral sound represented by (ə)
noun
10.
a rare word for obscurity
Derived Forms
obscuration (ˌɒbskjʊˈreɪʃən) noun
obscurely, adverb
obscureness, noun
Word Origin
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
Cite This Source
Word Origin and History for obscure
adj.

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.

v.

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
Cite This Source
obscure in Technology


"A Formal Description of the Specification Language OBSCURE", J. Loeckx, TR A85/15, U Saarlandes, Saarbrucken, 1985.
[Jargon File]

The Free On-line Dictionary of Computing, © Denis Howe 2010 http://foldoc.org
Cite This Source

Word of the Day

Difficulty index for obscure

Most English speakers likely know this word

Word Value for obscure

11
14
Scrabble Words With Friends

Quotes with obscure

Nearby words for obscure