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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-. Doublet of oscuro.
- (Received Pronunciation) IPA(key): /əbˈskjʊə(ɹ)/, /əbˈskjɔː(ɹ)/
- (General American) IPA(key): /əbˈskjʊɹ/, /əbˈskjɝ/
Audio (US) (file)
- Rhymes: -ʊə(ɹ), -ɔː(ɹ), -ɜː(ɹ)
- Hyphenation: ob‧scure
- Dark, faint or indistinct.
- Hidden, out of sight or inconspicuous.
- 1606, John Davies of Hereford, Bien Venu
- the obscure corners of the earth
- Difficult to understand.
- 1953, Samuel Beckett, Watt
- The lock was of a kind that Watt could not pick. Watt could pick simple locks, but he could not pick obscure locks.
- 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.
- 1953, Samuel Beckett, Watt
- Not well-known.
- Unknown or uncertain; unclear.
- The etymological roots of the word "blizzard" are obscure and open to debate.
- The comparative obscurer and superlative obscurest, though formed by valid rules for English, are less common than more obscure and most obscure.
- (dark): cimmerian, dingy; See also Thesaurus:dark
- (faint or indistinct): fuzzy, ill-defined; See also Thesaurus:indistinct
- (hidden, out of sight): occluded, secluded; See also Thesaurus:hidden
- (difficult to understand): fathomless, inscrutable; See also Thesaurus:incomprehensible
- (not well-known): enigmatic, esoteric, mysterious; See also Thesaurus:arcane
dark, faint or indistinct
difficult to understand
- (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.
- c. 1597, William Shakespeare, “The Merry VViues of VVindsor”, in Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies […] (First Folio), London: […] Isaac Iaggard, and Ed[ward] Blount, published 1623, OCLC 606515358, [Act V, scene iii]:
- They are all couched in a pit hard by Herne's oak, with obscured lights.
- c. 1688', William Wake, Preparation for Death
- There is scarce any duty which has been so obscured in the writings of learned men as this.
- (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.
- (intransitive, obsolete) To conceal oneself; to hide.
to darken, make faint
to hide, put out of sight
- “obscure” in Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary, G. & C. Merriam, 1913.
- “obscure” in The Century Dictionary, New York, N.Y.: The Century Co., 1911.
- “obscure”, in Charlton T[homas] Lewis; Charles [Lancaster] Short (1879) […] A New Latin Dictionary […], New York, N.Y.; Cincinnati, Ohio; Chicago, Ill.: American Book Company; 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