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[uh b-toos, -tyoos] /əbˈtus, -ˈtyus/
not quick or alert in perception, feeling, or intellect; not sensitive or observant; dull.
not sharp, acute, or pointed; blunt in form.
(of a leaf, petal, etc.) rounded at the extremity.
indistinctly felt or perceived, as pain or sound.
Origin of obtuse
1500-10; < Latin obtūsus dulled (past participle of obtundere), equivalent to ob- ob- + tūd-, variant stem of tundere to beat + -tus past participle suffix, with dt > s
Related forms
obtusely, adverb
obtuseness, noun
subobtuse, adjective
subobtusely, adverb
subobtuseness, noun
Can be confused
abstruse, obtuse.
1. unfeeling, tactless, insensitive; blind, imperceptive, unobservant; gauche, boorish; slow, dim. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for obtuse
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Tail flat, oblong, obtuse, with a reticulated naked surface.

    Lachesis Lapponica Carl von Linn
  • The characters are taken very lightly, but at least they are not obtuse and awkward.

    Epic and Romance W. P. Ker
  • Even the obtuse faculties of the hostler had been drilled into knowing nothing of any other auberge in the town but his own.

    Richelieu, v. 3/3 G. P. R. James
  • The fourth glume is as long as the third, ovate, obtuse, paleate.

    A Handbook of Some South Indian Grasses Rai Bahadur K. Ranga Achariyar
  • Indeed, it is amusing to observe that we speak of the English as obtuse in humor, just as they speak of the Scotch.

    Americanisms and Briticisms Brander Matthews
  • The third glume is hyaline, thin, oblong, obtuse and nerveless.

    A Handbook of Some South Indian Grasses Rai Bahadur K. Ranga Achariyar
  • She knew that within his splendid physique was a spirit, valiant perhaps, but obtuse.

    The Monster Edgar Saltus
British Dictionary definitions for obtuse


mentally slow or emotionally insensitive
  1. (of an angle) lying between 90° and 180°
  2. (of a triangle) having one interior angle greater than 90°
not sharp or pointed
indistinctly felt, heard, etc; dull: obtuse pain
(of a leaf or similar flat part) having a rounded or blunt tip
Derived Forms
obtusely, adverb
obtuseness, noun
Word Origin
C16: from Latin obtūsus dulled, past participle of obtundere to beat down; see obtund
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
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Word Origin and History for obtuse

early 15c., "dull, blunted," from Middle French obtus (fem. obtuse), from Latin obtusus "blunted, dull," also used figuratively, past participle of obtundere "to beat against, make dull," from ob "against" (see ob-) + tundere "to beat," from PIE *(s)tud-e- "to beat, strike, push, thrust," from root *(s)teu- "to push, stick, knock, beat" (cf. Latin tudes "hammer," Sanskrit tudati "he thrusts"). Sense of "stupid" is first found c.1500. Related: Obtusely; obtuseness.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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obtuse in Medicine

obtuse ob·tuse (ŏb-tōōs', -tyōōs', əb-)

  1. Lacking quickness of perception or intellect.

  2. Not sharp or acute; blunt.

ob·tuse'ness n.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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