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From Middle French obscurité, from Latin obscūritās; synchronically analyzable as obscure +‎ -ity



obscurity (countable and uncountable, plural obscurities)

  1. (literary) Darkness; the absence of light.
    • 1907, Harold Bindloss, chapter 6, in The Dust of Conflict:
      The night was considerably clearer than anybody on board her desired when the schooner Ventura headed for the land. It rose in places, black and sharp against the velvety indigo, over her dipping bow, though most of the low littoral was wrapped in obscurity.
    • 1919, W. Somerset Maugham, The Moon and Sixpence, ch. 24
      I walked in, and Stroeve followed me. The room was in darkness. I could only see that it was an attic, with a sloping roof; and a faint glimmer, no more than a less profound obscurity, came from a skylight.
  2. The state of being unknown; a thing that is unknown.
    • 1922, Ben Travers, chapter 5, in A Cuckoo in the Nest:
      The departure was not unduly prolonged. [] Within the door Mrs. Spoker hastily imparted to Mrs. Love a few final sentiments [] ; a deep, guttural instigation to the horse; and the wheels of the waggonette crunched heavily away into obscurity.
  3. The quality of being difficult to understand; a thing that is difficult to understand.



  • (the state of being known): fame
  • (the state of being clear): clarity

Related terms[edit]