obscure

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English[edit]

Etymology[edit]

From Middle English obscure, from Old French obscur, from Latin obscūrus (dark, dusky, indistinct), from ob- +‎ *scūrus, from Proto-Italic *skoiros, from Proto-Indo-European *(s)ḱeh₃-.

Pronunciation[edit]

Adjective[edit]

obscure (comparative obscurer or more obscure, superlative obscurest or most obscure)

  1. Dark, faint or indistinct.
  2. Hidden, out of sight or inconspicuous.
  3. Difficult to understand.
    • 2013 August 3, “The machine of a new soul”, in The Economist, volume 408, number 8847:
      The yawning gap in neuroscientists’ understanding of their topic is in the intermediate scale of the brain’s anatomy. Science has a passable knowledge of how individual nerve cells, known as neurons, work. It also knows which visible lobes and ganglia of the brain do what. But how the neurons are organised in these lobes and ganglia remains obscure.
    an obscure passage or inscription;    The speaker made obscure references to little-known literary works.
  4. Not well-known.
  5. Unknown or uncertain; unclear.
    The etymological roots of the word "blizzard" are obscure and open to debate.

Usage notes[edit]

  • The comparative obscurer and superlative obscurest, though formed by valid rules for English, are less common than more obscure and most obscure.

Synonyms[edit]

Antonyms[edit]

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Related terms[edit]

Translations[edit]

Verb[edit]

obscure (third-person singular simple present obscures, present participle obscuring, simple past and past participle obscured)

  1. (transitive) To render obscure; to darken; to make dim; to keep in the dark; to hide; to make less visible, intelligible, legible, glorious, beautiful, or illustrious.
  2. (transitive) To hide, put out of sight etc.
    • 1959, Georgette Heyer, chapter 1, in The Unknown Ajax:
      But Richmond [] appeared to lose himself in his own reflections. Some pickled crab, which he had not touched, had been removed with a damson pie; and his sister saw, peeping around the massive silver epergne that almost obscured him from her view, that he had eaten no more than a spoonful of that either.
    • 1961 December, “Planning the London Midland main-line electrification”, in Trains Illustrated, page 719:
      However, many people—including railwaymen—are only beginning to realise how great is the amount of civil engineering work necessary to achieve adequate clearances for high-voltage overhead equipment under bridges and tunnels; what is involved in the re-signalling needed to permit the increased throughput of traffic (in some places it is unavoidable, to afford better sighting of signals obscured by overhead electrical gear); [...].
    • 1994, Bill Watterson, Homicidal Psycho Jungle Cat, page 62
      I realized that the purpose of writing is to inflate weak ideas, obscure poor reasoning, and inhibit clarity.
  3. (intransitive, obsolete) To conceal oneself; to hide.

Synonyms[edit]

Translations[edit]

Further reading[edit]

Anagrams[edit]


French[edit]

Pronunciation[edit]

Adjective[edit]

obscure

  1. feminine singular of obscur

Anagrams[edit]


Latin[edit]

Adjective[edit]

obscūre

  1. vocative masculine singular of obscūrus

References[edit]

  • obscure in Charlton T. Lewis and Charles Short (1879) A Latin Dictionary, Oxford: Clarendon Press
  • obscure in Charlton T. Lewis (1891) An Elementary Latin Dictionary, New York: Harper & Brothers
  • obscure in Gaffiot, Félix (1934) Dictionnaire illustré Latin-Français, Hachette