Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • adj. Lacking quickness of perception or intellect.
  • adj. Characterized by a lack of intelligence or sensitivity: an obtuse remark.
  • adj. Not distinctly felt: an obtuse pain.
  • adj. Not sharp, pointed, or acute in form; blunt.
  • adj. Having an obtuse angle: an obtuse triangle.
  • adj. Botany. Having a blunt or rounded tip: an obtuse leaf.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • adj. Blunt; not sharp.
  • adj. Intellectually dull or dim-witted.
  • adj. Indirect or circuitous.
  • adj. Of sound: deadened or muffled.
  • adj. Of an angle: greater than 90 degrees but less than 180 degrees.
  • adj. Of a triangle: with one obtuse angle.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. Not pointed or acute; blunt; -- applied esp. to angles greater than a right angle, or containing more than ninety degrees.
  • adj. Not having acute sensibility or perceptions; not alert, especially to the feelings of others; dull; stupid.
  • adj. Dull; deadened.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • Blunt; not acute or pointed: applied to an angle, it denotes one that is larger than a right angle, or of more than 90°. See cuts under angle.
  • In botany, blunt, or rounded at the extremity: as, an obtuse leaf, sepal, or petal.
  • Dull; lacking in acuteness of sensibility: stupid: as, he is very obtuse; his perceptions are obtuse.
  • Not shrill; obscure; dull: as, an obtuse sound.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • adj. slow to learn or understand; lacking intellectual acuity
  • adj. lacking in insight or discernment
  • adj. (of a leaf shape) rounded at the apex
  • adj. of an angle; between 90 and 180 degrees

Etymologies

Middle English, from Old French, from Latin obtūsus, past participle of obtundere, to blunt; see obtund.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Latin obtusus, past participle of obtundere ("to strike at or upon, beat, blunt, dull"), from ob ("upon") + tundere ("to strike"). (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • Scalia rejected what he called the "obtuse" argument by the attorneys for consumers who challenged CompuCredit that Congress had not intended for companies to force disputes into binding arbitration.

    News - latimes.com

  • You need a new thesaurus, your reliance on the word obtuse is getting annoying.

    Raw Story

  • All he’s doing is what all of you phonies do – speak in obtuse generalities.

    Think Progress » Halliburton/KBR Goes After Rape Survivor Jamie Leigh Jones’ Personal Integrity In Its Supreme Court Petition

  • Oh and maybe the reason they’re all quite obtuse is that being in a chick-lit novel themselves they never read chick-lit, or seen a chick-flick and so don’t come to recognise the signals like the rest of us?

    Me and Chick-Lit « Tales from the Reading Room

  • “I don’t much like hearing him called obtuse and superficial, but I suppose I should like still less to hear Sybell praise him.

    Red Pottage

  • You get into the story for a couple of pages, then you realize that the characters are too bizarre, the world-view does not fit, the plot does not compute, and even the words themselves that author uses are baroque, esoteric, obtuse ... in other words, if you approach it lightly, Chabon's prose is not going to make much sense.

    "Steampunk" Anthology, Edited by Ann and Jeff VanderMeer

  • If you can't see how even the most resolutely period-costumed production of Don Carlos maybe just might have some pertinence to current political realities, then you're just plain obtuse.

    Rant

  • "I don't much like hearing him called obtuse and superficial, but I suppose I should like still less to hear Sybell praise him.

    Red Pottage

  • He was quite alive to the disgrace of being called obtuse, and quick enough to avenge himself at the moment.

    The Duke's Children

  • That prompted WRC-TV's Tom Sherwood to call Fenty "obtuse" for not telling these guys to knock it off more directly.

    Fenty asks write-in supporters to back Gray

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Comments

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  • "'No, he's not. He's in Seattle,' I said. Willfully obtuse." -Club Dead, by Charlaine Harris

    February 5, 2011

  • An angle about to take a big bite of some flapjacks.

    February 4, 2007

  • This word, uttered by Tim Robbins' character (Andy Dufresne)in the movie "The Shawshank Redemption", made an implacable enemy of the prison Warden, to wit: "How can you be so obtuse?"

    February 3, 2007