Definition of obscure in English:

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Pronunciation: /əbˈskyo͝or/

adjective (obscurer, obscurest)

1Not discovered or known about; uncertain: his origins and parentage are obscure
More example sentences
  • When in such situations the essential basis of territorial sovereignty is lacking or confused, the situation is obscure and uncertain from a legal point of view.
  • Late in the week I discovered that for some obscure reason one of my friends, Caroline, was married to a different man and had different children.
  • For reasons that are obscure and mysterious to nobody but a three-day-old child, the former culture minister was this week informed his desk was in the lift and that he was now free to spend more time with his record collection.
unclear, uncertain, unknown, in doubt, doubtful, dubious, mysterious, hazy, vague, indeterminate, concealed, hidden
1.1Not clearly expressed or easily understood: obscure references to Proust
More example sentences
  • In fact you appear to have to be very advanced in magical theory in order to understand most of the obscure written references about it.
  • Still, this is a Frank Black album, with its obscure references and abstruse lyrics.
  • Pondering the wisdom of basing a key joke on an obscure music reference that most people won't understand, I wander back downstairs to the lounge.
1.2Not important or well known: an obscure religious sect
More example sentences
  • Disillusioned and sickened, Balashov achieves salvation by joining the Skoptsy, an obscure religious sect that existed until only a few decades ago.
  • You could become a flagellant in some obscure religious sect.
  • As a reporter for a major magazine she intended to write about what would no doubt be an odd, perhaps even bizarre practice by an obscure religious sect.
little known, unknown, unheard of, unnoticed, undistinguished, unimportant, insignificant, inconsequential, minor, lowly;
nameless, anonymous;
unsung, unrecognized, forgotten
1.3Hard to make out or define; vague: figurative I feel an obscure resentment
More example sentences
  • It's to Professor McWorter's credit that he developed the right idea from a vague representation of an obscure intuition.
  • In the voice, words are flooded with soulful intentionality; the soul emerges briefly from the obscure corporeal dark and is suddenly there.
  • Yet while Fassbinder remains a signal figure for those who recall his '70s heyday, to a new generation he's something of an obscure shadow from the past.
1.4(Of a color) not sharply defined; dim or dingy.


[with object]
1Keep from being seen; conceal: gray clouds obscure the sun
More example sentences
  • Thick, grey, rain-laden clouds obscure the warm morning sun, casting a certain dreariness upon the land of Myrmar below.
  • The sun was obscured by high, grey cloud, its disc appearing at once flat and lifeless.
  • The sun had been long since covered by the mass of clouds that obscured the grey sky when the new recruitment returned upon a chestnut mare with a large backpack upon his shoulders.
hide, conceal, cover, veil, shroud, screen, mask, cloak, cast a shadow over, shadow, block (out), obliterate, eclipse, darken
literary bedim, enshroud
1.1Make unclear and difficult to understand: the debate has become obscured by conflicting ideological perspectives
More example sentences
  • The network news means to correct this tendency, but unclear language obscures the truth, no matter in whose interest one employs it.
  • In this context, it's a terrible shame that Strange Gardens, even though based on a true incident, only serves to obscure those difficult matters all over again.
  • We understand that anti-Semitism obscures the reality of what it is to be a Jew, and has enabled atrocities great and small to be committed upon the Jewish people.
confuse, complicate, obfuscate, cloud, blur, muddy;
muddy the waters of
literary befog, becloud
1.2Overshadow: none of this should obscure the skill, experience, and perseverance of the workers
More example sentences
  • First, he argued, in data aggregated at the state level, large districts may overshadow or obscure smaller districts.
  • Much is made of Timbaland's undoubted skill as a producer, in fact so much is made of it that he seems to overshadow and obscure the artists he works with these days.
  • In other words, it is possible for the profiling code to overshadow or obscure a performance problem.



Pronunciation: /ˌäbskyəˈrāSH(ə)n/
Example sentences
  • In fact, many kinds of cleverness are just further obscurations.
  • When associated with early morning vomiting, transient obscuration of vision, leg weakness with drop attacks, fits or loss of consciousness, there is a high likelihood of brain tumour.
  • The maximum obscuration of the sun takes place exactly at sunrise, so the best place to be to see it is the Yorkshire Coast with the horizon provided by the North Sea.


Pronunciation: /əbˈskyo͝orlē/
Example sentences
  • Hackers are the new proletariat, whose creations are being confiscated by what Wark rather obscurely calls the ‘vectoralist’ ruling class.
  • Outside these specialised terms for slaves, there are some usages in the colonial newspapers which parallel those of the English press, but perhaps rather more obscurely.
  • Most obviously and outright in ornament and architecture, fairly clearly in sculpture, rather more obscurely and indirectly in painting, the Renaissance is marked by a return to classical form, and displaces Gothic.


Late Middle English: from Old French obscur, from Latin obscurus 'dark', from an Indo-European root meaning 'cover'.

Words that rhyme with obscure

abjure, adjure, allure, amour, assure, Bahawalpur, boor, Borobudur, Cavour, coiffure, conjure, couture, cure, dastur, de nos jours, doublure, dour, embouchure, endure, ensure, enure, gravure, immature, immure, impure, inure, Jaipur, Koh-i-noor, Kultur, liqueur, lure, manure, moor, Moore, Muir, mure, Nagpur, Namur, parkour, photogravure, plat du jour, Pompadour, procure, pure, rotogravure, Ruhr, Saussure, secure, simon-pure, spoor, Stour, sure, tour, Tours, velour, Yom Kippur, you're

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: ob·scure

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