From Middle French obtus (“obtuse (geometry); narrow-minded, obtuse; boring, dull, lifeless”), from Latin obtūsus (“blunt, dull; obtuse”), past participle of obtundere, from obtundō (“to batter, beat, strike; to blunt, dull”), from ob- (“prefix meaning against”) + tundō (“to beat, strike; to bruise, crush, pound”) (ultimately from Proto-Indo-European *(s)tewd-, from *(s)tew- (“to hit; to push”)).
- (Received Pronunciation) IPA(key): /əbˈtjuːs/, /-ˈtʃuːs/
- (General American) IPA(key): /əbˈt(j)us/, /ɑb-/
Audio (GA) (file)
- Rhymes: -uːs
- Hyphenation: ob‧tuse
- Intellectually dull or dim-witted.
1613, [Robert Anton], Moriomachia, imprinted at London: By Simon Stafford, OCLC 800723901, archived from the original on 14 January 2018:
- It was a merry time with Carrmen, Watermen, & Porters: for in this Eclipſe, many of them did nothing but drinke, domineere, and ſwagger in Alehouſes; but the often going to and fro of the Pot, made them talke of that, which they had nothing to doe withall, and many times their obtuſe apprehenſions would be medling with the warres betwixt the great Turke and Preſter Iohn, how it was likely to end; […]
- 1848, William Makepeace Thackeray, Vanity Fair, Chapter 21:
- When the elder Osborne gave what he called "a hint," there was no possibility for the most obtuse to mistake his meaning. He called kicking a footman downstairs a hint to the latter to leave his service.
2017 March 27, “The Observer view on triggering article 50: As Britain hurtles towards the precipice, truth and democracy are in short supply [editorial]”, in The Observer, London, archived from the original on 30 August 2017:
- Be you a Remainer or a Leaver, you would have to be particularly obtuse not to see that [Theresa] May's hard Tory Brexit will cost this country and its families more than it can conceivably afford.
- Indirect or circuitous.
2003, Stephen Jay Gould, “The Fusions of Unum and the Benefits of Pluribus”, in The Hedghog, the Fox, and the Magister’s Pox: Mending the Gap between Science and the Humanities, New York, N.Y.: Harmony Books, ISBN 978-0-609-60140-2; Harvard University Press edition, Cambridge, Mass.; London: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2011, ISBN 978-0-674-06166-8, section III (A Saga of Pluribus and Unum: The Power and Meaning of True Consilience), page 185:
- […] The Conchologist's First Book intends to do something different by describing both the shell and the soft parts of each creature together. The claim seems awfully trivial, I admit, and [Edgar Allan] Poe does press his point only by the obtuse route of stressing an expansion of terminology, from the traditional "conchology" (literally the study of shells, as retained in the title) to "malacology" (or the study of the entire organism—for the animals within the hard shells consist almost entirely of soft parts, […]).
- Of sound, etc.: deadened, muffled, muted.
1661, Robert Lovell, “Dynamilogia Pharmaceutica. Or The Whole Use, of All Simples and Compounds Contained in the London Dispensatory, with the Diseases Cured by Them in Alphabetical Order: Together with the Doses and Formes of All Kinds of Remedies.”, in ΠΑΝΖΩΟΡΥΚΤΟΛΟΓΙΑ [PANZŌORYKTOLOGIA]. Sive Panzoologicomineralogia. Or a Compleat History of Animals and Minerals, Containing the Summe of All Authors, both Ancient and Modern, Galenicall and Chymicall, [...], Oxford: Printed by Hen[ry] Hall, for Jos[eph] Godwin, OCLC 79920846, page 517:
- The ſenſe of the inteſtines, if exquiſite, wants a more gentle remedie; and if dull, a ſtronger: Alſo the ſenſes of the inteſtines are perceived by the courſe of diet; for thoſe that feed upon muſtard, or the like biting and more ſharp meat, without trouble, are of a more obtuſe ſenſe; but thoſe of an exact ſenſe, which preſently perceive the mordacity; and thoſe that are of a mean ſenſe, want a mean doſe.
1847 January, “Art. VI.—A Universal and Critical Dictionary of the English Language; to which are added Walker’s Key to the Pronunciation of Classical and Scripture Proper Names, much enlarged and improved; and a Pronouncing Vocabulary of Modern Geographical Names. By Joseph E. Worcester. Boston: Wilkins, Carter, & Co. Imperial 8vo. pp. 955. [book review]”, in The North American Review, volume LXIV, number CXXXIV, Boston, Mass.: Published by Otis, Broaders, and Co., No. 154 Washington Street, OCLC 956094611, page 198:
- Another addition in Mr. [Joseph Emerson] Worcester's key to the same letter [e] is what he calls the short and obtuse sound, as in her, herd, fern, fervid. Some of these, also, for the sake of indicating the true sound, [John] Walker was obliged to spell with a different vowel. Thus her is directed to be pronounced hur, like u in tub.
- (geometry) Of an angle: greater than 90 degrees but less than 180 degrees.
1623, Charles Butler, “Of the Hiues, and the Dreſsing of Them”, in The Feminine Monarchie: Or The Historie of Bees. Shewing Their Admirable Nature, and Properties, Their Generation, and Colonies, Their Gouernment, Loyaltie, Art, Industrie, Enemies, Warres, Magnanimitie, &c. Together with the Right ordering of Them from Time to Time: And the Sweet Profit Arising thereof. Written out of Experience, London: Printed by Iohn Haviland for Roger Iackson, and are to be sold at his Shop in Fleetstreet, ouer against the Conduit, OCLC 63334619, footnote c:
- If you put foure Spleets in a Hiue, then cut their backes, where they muſt leane one againſt another, to ſquare angles, ſuch as be foure in a circle: if but three, cut them to obtuſe angles, ſuch as are three in a circle: (you may readily try them, before you put them in, by Moulds made iuſt to thoſe formes) and ſo will they ſtand cloſe and firme together.
1877, Ch[arles] Couche; James N. Shoolbred, transl., “Special Points in the Permanent Way”, in Permanent Way Rolling Stock and Technical Working of Railways. Followed by an Appendix on Works of Art, volume I, London: Dulau & Co., 37, Soho Square; Paris: Dunod, 49, Quai des Augustins, OCLC 58932800, § XIV (Rail-crossings), paragraph 258, page 316:
- Obtuse angles of the through crossing. — The system of the two obtuse-angled points is especially termed the dead-crossing. […] The point itself, less liable to damage than that of the crossing proper, on account of its obtuse form and its position relatively to the wheels, acts the same part towards the tapered portion of the cut rail, as the wing-rail does with respect to the acute-angle of the crossing.
1922, May Sinclair, “Space, Time and Other Consciousnesses”, in The New Idealism, New York, N.Y.: The Macmillan Company, OCLC 558287, section v, pages 255–256:
- If he is standing close beside me I know that our separate axes of vision will meet at an acute angle in the centre of his object, and if we are further apart, at an obtuser angle.
- (geometry) Of a triangle: having one obtuse angle.
2013, Edward J. Barbeau, “Probability and Statistics”, in More Fallacies, Flaws, and Flimflam (Spectrum Series), Washington, D.C.: Mathematical Association of America, ISBN 978-0-88385-580-5, page 128:
- Ruma Falk wrote an article entitled Lewis Carroll's obtuse problem, published in Teaching statistics 23:3 (Autumn, 2001), 72–75. She discussed the Pillow Problem No. 58 from the collection published in 1895 by Lewis Carroll: / Three points are taken at random on an infinite Plane. Find the chance of their being the vertices of an obtuse-angled Triangle. / […] Then the third vertex of the triangle cannot fall outside of the figure . If it falls inside the semi-circle, then the triangle is obtuse, […]
- (now chiefly botany, zoology) Not sharp; blunt.
1653, Francis Rabelais [i.e., François Rabelais]; [Peter Anthony Motteux, transl.], “How Pantagruel Did Put Himself in a Readiness to Go to Sea; and of the Herb Named Pantagruelion”, in The Works of Mr. Francis Rabelais Doctor in Physick, Containing Five Books of the Lives, Heroick Deeds and Sayings of Gargantua and His Sonne Pantagruel: Together with the Pantagrueline Prognostication, the Oracle of the Divine Bacbuc, and Response of the Bottle: Hereunto are Annexed the Navigations unto the Sounding Isle and the Isle of the Apedefts: As Likewise the Philosophical Cream with a Limosin Epistle all Done by Mr. Francis Rabelais in the French Tongue and Now Faithfully Translated into English [...] In Two Volumes, volume II, London: Privately printed for the Navarre Society Limited, 23 New Oxford Street, W.C., published 1921, OCLC 228675398, book III, pages 57–58:
- The Herb Pantagruelion hath a little Root somewhat hard and ruff, roundish, terminating in an obtuse and very blunt Point, and having some of its Veins, Strings or Filaments coloured with some spots of white, […]
1670, Francis Lord Verulam, Viscount St. Alban [Francis Bacon], “Century VIII”, in Sylva Sylvarum, or, A Natural History, in Ten Centuries. Whereunto is Newly Added, the History Natural and Experimental of [Life] and Death, or of the Prolongation of Life. Published after the Authors Death. By William Rawley, Doctor in Divinity, One of His Majesties Chaplains. Whereunto is Added Articles of Inquiry, Touching Metals and Minerals. And the New Atlantis. As also the Life of the Right Honorable Francis Bacon, Never Added to this Book before. [...] With an Alphabetical Table of the Principal Things Contained in the Ten Centuries, 9th and last edition, London: Printed by J[ohn] R[edmayne] for William Lee, and are to be sold by George Sawbridg [et al.], OCLC 42391224, page 161:
- […] For we ſee a Feather or a Ruſh drawn along the Lip or Cheek, doth tickle; whereas a thing more obtuſe, or a touch more hard, doth not.
1932, Ernest Bramah, chapter XV, in The Moon of Much Gladness: Related by Kai Lung, London: Cassell and Co., OCLC 51025099; republished [s.l.]: Read Books, 2013, ISBN 978-1-4733-9248-9, section IV:
- Yet you do not brighten what would otherwise be dull, impart a keenness to the obtusest point, and diffuse a general lustre?
- (intellectually dull): dense, dim, dim-witted, thick (informal)
- (of a sound): deadened, muffled
- (of a triangle): obtuse-angled
- (now chiefly botany, zoology): blunt, dull
- (intellectually dull): bright, intelligent, on the ball, quick off the mark, quick-witted, sharp, smart
- (deadened, muffled, muted): clear, sharp
- (of an angle): acute
- (of a triangle): acute, acute-angled
- (now chiefly botany, zoology): pointed, sharp
- (transitive, obsolete) To dull or reduce an emotion or a physical state.
1861 August, “[Miscellaneous.] Coca”, in The United States Journal of Homœopathy, volume II, New York, N.Y.: C. T. Hurlburt, No. 437 Broome Street, OCLC 64159880, page 549:
- The general effect of even a weak infusion of coca leaves is a pleasant irritability and sleeplessness. A stronger infusion keeps hunger away, prevents loss of breath in ascending mountains, dilates the pupil, and obtuses the sensibility to the air.
1900 July 13, George M. Kober, “Shall Alcohol be Considered as a Food?”, in Landon B. Edwards and Charles M. Edwards, editors, Virginia Medical Semi-monthly (Richmond), volume V, number 7 (103 overall), Richmond, Va.: J. W. Fergusson & Son, printers [for the Medical Society of Virginia], published 1901, OCLC 1769197, page 205, column 1:
- [Gustav von] Bunge […] claims that its [alcohol's] primary action is that of a depressant, and that its apparent good effects are simply due to the obtusing influence upon physical and mental suffering. But this is scarcely a correct assumption, as there are individuals in whom the smallest doses produce palpitation of the heart, throbbing of the carotids, and great mental activity. He also claims that alcohol does not produce renewed vigor in tired individuals, but simply obtuses this feeling of exhaustion.
1916, Henry Goddard Leach, editor, The American-Scandinavian Review, volume 4, New York, N.Y.: The American-Scandinavian Foundation, ISSN 0003-0910, OCLC 6460493, page 51:
- The American avidity for "action" has evidently obtused the perceptions of habitual theatre-goers to all nuances of feeling, and therefore, the harmless romancings of the elderly estranged couple, Mr. and Mrs. Arvik, are interpreted as covering unspeakable iniquities that only exist in the minds of the critics.
- obtuse (disambiguation) on Wikipedia.Wikipedia
- obtuse in The Century Dictionary, The Century Co., New York, 1911
- obtuse in Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary, G. & C. Merriam, 1913
- “obtuse” at OneLook Dictionary Search