What does obscure mean?

Definitions for obscure

This dictionary definitions page includes all the possible meanings, example usage and translations of the word obscure.

Princeton's WordNet

  1. obscure, vagueadjective

    not clearly understood or expressed

    "an obscure turn of phrase"; "an impulse to go off and fight certain obscure battles of his own spirit"-Anatole Broyard; "their descriptions of human behavior become vague, dull, and unclear"- P.A.Sorokin; "vague...forms of speech...have so long passed for mysteries of science"- John Locke

  2. dark, obscureadjective

    marked by difficulty of style or expression

    "much that was dark is now quite clear to me"; "those who do not appreciate Kafka's work say his style is obscure"

  3. hidden, obscureadjective

    difficult to find

    "hidden valleys"; "a hidden cave"; "an obscure retreat"

  4. obscure, unknown, unsungadjective

    not famous or acclaimed

    "an obscure family"; "unsung heroes of the war"

  5. obscure, unnoticeableadjective

    not drawing attention

    "an unnoticeable cigarette burn on the carpet"; "an obscure flaw"

  6. apart(p), isolated, obscureverb

    remote and separate physically or socially

    "existed over the centuries as a world apart"; "preserved because they inhabited a place apart"- W.H.Hudson; "tiny isolated villages remote from centers of civilization"; "an obscure village"

  7. obscure, befog, becloud, obnubilate, haze over, fog, cloud, mistverb

    make less visible or unclear

    "The stars are obscured by the clouds"; "the big elm tree obscures our view of the valley"

  8. confuse, blur, obscure, obnubilateverb

    make unclear, indistinct, or blurred

    "Her remarks confused the debate"; "Their words obnubilate their intentions"

  9. obscure, bedim, overcloudverb

    make obscure or unclear

    "The distinction was obscured"

  10. obscureverb

    reduce a vowel to a neutral one, such as a schwa

  11. obscure, blot out, obliterate, veil, hideverb

    make undecipherable or imperceptible by obscuring or concealing

    "a hidden message"; "a veiled threat"


  1. obscureverb

    To darken, make faint etc.

  2. obscureverb

    To hide, put out of sight etc.

  3. obscureadjective

    Dark, faint or indistinct.

  4. obscureadjective

    Hidden, out of sight or inconspicuous.

  5. obscureadjective

    Difficult to understand.

  6. Etymology: From obscur, from obscurus, possibly, from ob +, from root scu, seen also in scutum; see scutum, sky.

Samuel Johnson's Dictionary

  1. OBSCUREadjective

    Etymology: obscur, Fr. obscurus, Latin.

    Whoso curseth his father or mother, his lamp shall be put out in obscure darkness. Prov. xx. 20.

    Who shall tempt with wand’ring feet
    The dark unbottom’d infinite abyss,
    And thro’ the palpable obscure find out
    His uncouth way? John Milton, Paradise Lost.

    The obscure bird clamour’d the live-long night. William Shakespeare.

    I explain some of the most obscure passages, and those which are most necessary to be understood, and this according to the manner wherein he used to express himself. Dryd.

    He says, that he is an obscure person; one, I suppose, that is in the dark. Francis Atterbury.

  2. To Obscureverb

    Etymology: obscuro, Latin.

    Sudden the thunder blackens all the skies,
    And the winds whistle, and the surges roll
    Mountains on mountains, and obscure the pole. Alexander Pope.

    They are all couched in a pit hard by Herne’s oak, with obscured lights; which at the very instant of Falstaff’s and our meeting, they will at once display to the night. William Shakespeare.

    What must I hold a candle to my shames?
    They in themselves, good sooth, are too, too light.
    Why, ’tis an office of discovery, love,
    And I should be obscur’d. William Shakespeare, M. of Venice.

    Thinking by this retirement to obscure himself from God, he infringed the omnisciency and essential ubiquity of his maker. Thomas Browne, Vulgar Errours.

    By private consent it hath been used in dangerous times to obscure writing, and make it hard to be read by others not acquainted with the intrigue. William Holder.

    There is scarce any duty which has been so obscured by the writings of learned men, as this. William Wake.

    Think’st thou, vain spirit, thy glories are the same,
    And seest not sin obscures thy godlike frame?
    I know thee now by thy ungrateful pride,
    That shows me what thy faded looks did hide. Dryden.


  1. obscure

    Obscure is an adjective or a verb that generally refers to something not clearly understood or expressed, hidden or out of sight, or not clearly understood or clearly noticeable. It can also refer to the act of making something less visible or unclear.

Webster Dictionary

  1. Obscure

    covered over, shaded, or darkened; destitute of light; imperfectly illuminated; dusky; dim

  2. Obscure

    of or pertaining to darkness or night; inconspicuous to the sight; indistinctly seen; hidden; retired; remote from observation; unnoticed

  3. Obscure

    not noticeable; humble; mean

  4. Obscure

    not easily understood; not clear or legible; abstruse or blind; as, an obscure passage or inscription

  5. Obscure

    not clear, full, or distinct; clouded; imperfect; as, an obscure view of remote objects

  6. Obscureadjective

    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

  7. Obscureverb

    to conceal one's self; to hide; to keep dark

  8. Obscurenoun


  9. Etymology: [L. obscurare, fr. obscurus: cf. OF. obscurer. See Obscure, a.]


  1. ObsCure

    ObsCure is a survival horror video game developed by Hydravision Entertainment and published by DreamCatcher Interactive in North America, Ubisoft in China and MC2-Microïds in other territories for Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 2 and Xbox. It was released on October 1, 2004 in Europe and North America on April 6, 2005.

Chambers 20th Century Dictionary

  1. Obscure

    ob-skūr′, adj. dark: not distinct: not easily understood: not clear, legible, or perspicuous: unknown: humble: unknown to fame: living in darkness.—v.t. to darken: to make less plain: to render doubtful.—ns. Obscū′rant, one who labours to prevent enlightenment or reform; Obscū′rantism, opposition to inquiry or reform; Obscū′rantist, an obscurant.—adj. pertaining to obscurantism.—n. Obscūrā′tion, the act of obscuring or state of being obscured.—adv. Obscūre′ly.—ns. Obscūre′ment; Obscūre′ness; Obscū′rer; Obscū′rity, state or quality of being obscure: darkness: an obscure place or condition: unintelligibleness: humility. [Fr.,—L. obscurus.]

The New Hacker's Dictionary

  1. obscure

    Used in an exaggeration of its normal meaning, to imply total incomprehensibility. “The reason for that last crash is obscure.” “The find(1) command's syntax is obscure!” The phrase moderately obscure implies that something could be figured out but probably isn't worth the trouble. The construction obscure in the extreme is the preferred emphatic form.

Suggested Resources

  1. obscure

    Song lyrics by obscure -- Explore a large variety of song lyrics performed by obscure on the Lyrics.com website.


  1. Obscure

    not readily seen: not well defined.

Matched Categories

British National Corpus

  1. Verbs Frequency

    Rank popularity for the word 'obscure' in Verbs Frequency: #1082

Anagrams for obscure »

  1. buceros

  2. bescour

How to pronounce obscure?

How to say obscure in sign language?


  1. Chaldean Numerology

    The numerical value of obscure in Chaldean Numerology is: 1

  2. Pythagorean Numerology

    The numerical value of obscure in Pythagorean Numerology is: 2

Examples of obscure in a Sentence

  1. Andrea Dworkin:

    The genius of any slave system is found in the dynamics which isolate slaves from each other, obscure the reality of a common condition, and make united rebellion against the oppressor inconceivable.

  2. Henri Frdric Amiel:

    Action is only coarsened thought-thought becomes concrete, obscure, and unconscious.

  3. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart:

    We say that the hour of death cannot be forecast, but when we say this we imagine that hour as placed in an obscure and distant future. It never occurs to us that it has any connection with the day already begun or that death could arrive this same afternoon, this afternoon which is so certain and which has every hour filled in advance.

  4. Dan Bishop:

    Scott Perry's telephone is maybe for me an even more extreme example than President Trump, they pick a member of Congress somewhat obscure, perhaps less famous than, say, Jim Jordan or Kevin McCarthy or Jim Banks. And they go and strip him of a cell phone under criminal process a day after they've conducted an unprecedented raid on the former president of the United States over, as far as anybody can tell, kind of weak tea allegations or issues about the Presidential Records Act.

  5. Horace:

    I strive to be brief, and become obscure.

Popularity rank by frequency of use


Translations for obscure

From our Multilingual Translation Dictionary

  • غام, مظلمArabic
  • nezřetelný, temnýCzech
  • obskur, verdunkeln, verdecken, undeutlich, verschleiern, unbedeutend, düster, vernebelnGerman
  • obscuro, ocultar, esconderSpanish
  • مبهمPersian
  • hämärtää, huomaamaton, vaikeaselkoinen, piilottaa, hämärä, piiloutunutFinnish
  • obscur, sibyllin, obscurcirFrench
  • kétes hírű, tompaHungarian
  • oscurato, confuso, vago, nascosto, indistinto, poco chiaro, oscuroItalian
  • 朦朧, 不明瞭Japanese
  • 애매한Korean
  • caecōLatin
  • whakarehurehu, rehurehuMāori
  • нејасен, мрачен, замагленMacedonian
  • duister, verborgenDutch
  • obskurNorwegian
  • [[mało]] [[znany]], schować, ukryć, zaciemnić, ciemny, niewyraźny, ukryty, przesłonićPolish
  • obscuroPortuguese
  • întuneca, obscur, retras, ascuns, oculta, ascunde, obscura, întunecosRomanian
  • прятать, безвестный, скрывать, непонятный, неясный, смутный, скрытый, тёмный, затемнятьRussian
  • mörkSwedish
  • தெளிவற்றTamil
  • незрозумілийUkrainian
  • che khuấtVietnamese
  • 朦胧Chinese

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"obscure." Definitions.net. STANDS4 LLC, 2024. Web. 18 Jun 2024. <https://www.definitions.net/definition/obscure>.

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    To cause to become
    A render
    B abide
    C efface
    D denudate

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