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

  • adj. Deficient in light; dark.
  • adj. So faintly perceptible as to lack clear delineation; indistinct. See Synonyms at dark.
  • adj. Indistinctly heard; faint.
  • adj. Linguistics Having the reduced, neutral sound represented by schwa (ə).
  • adj. Far from centers of human population: an obscure village.
  • adj. Out of sight; hidden: an obscure retreat.
  • adj. Not readily noticed or seen; inconspicuous: an obscure flaw.
  • adj. Of undistinguished or humble station or reputation: an obscure poet; an obscure family.
  • adj. Not clearly understood or expressed; ambiguous or vague: "an impulse to go off and fight certain obscure battles of his own spirit” ( Anatole Broyard). See Synonyms at ambiguous.
  • transitive v. To make dim or indistinct: Smog obscured our view. See Synonyms at block.
  • transitive v. To conceal in obscurity; hide: "Unlike the origins of most nations, America's origins are not obscured in the mists of time” ( National Review).
  • transitive v. Linguistics To reduce (a vowel) to the neutral sound represented by schwa (ə).
  • n. Something obscure or unknown.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • adj. Dark, faint or indistinct.
  • adj. Hidden, out of sight or inconspicuous.
  • adj. Difficult to understand.
  • v. To darken, make faint etc.
  • v. To hide, put out of sight etc.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. Covered over, shaded, or darkened; destitute of light; imperfectly illuminated; dusky; dim.
  • adj. Of or pertaining to darkness or night; inconspicuous to the sight; indistinctly seen; hidden; retired; remote from observation; unnoticed.
  • adj. Not noticeable; humble; mean.
  • adj. Not easily understood; not clear or legible; abstruse or incomprehensible.
  • adj. Not clear, full, or distinct; clouded; imperfect.
  • n. Obscurity.
  • intransitive v. To conceal one's self; to hide; to keep dark.
  • transitive v. 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.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • Dark; deprived of light; hence, murky; gloomy; dismal.
  • Living in darkness; pertaining to darkness or night.
  • Not capable of being clearly seen, on account of deficient illumination.
  • Hence In logic, not clear, as an idea; not sharply distinguished from others.
  • Not perspicuous, as a writing or speech; not readily understood, on account of faultiness of expression.
  • Hidden; retired; remote from observation: as, an obscure village.
  • Unknown to fame; unnoticed; hence, humble; lowly: as, an obscure curate.
  • In entomology: Not distinct: as, obscure punctures.
  • Not clear; dull or semi-opaque: as, obscure green or red.
  • Synonyms Dark, dim, darksome, dusky, rayless, murky.
  • 4 and Obscure, Doubtful, Dubious, Ambiguous, Equivocal; difficult, intricate, vague, mysterious, enigmatical. In regard to the meaning of something said or written, obscure is general, being founded upon the figure of light which is insufficient to enable one to see with any clearness; this figure is still felt in all the uses of the word. Doubtful is literal, meaning full of doubt, quite impossible of decision or determination, on account of insufficient knowledge. Dubious may be the same as doubtful, but tends to the special meaning of that doubtfulness which involves anxiety or suspicion: as, dubious battle; dubious prospects; a dubious character. Ambiguous applies to the use of words, intentionally or otherwise, in a way that makes certainty of interpretation impossible; but it may be used in other connections: as, an ambiguous smile. Equivocal applies to that which is ambiguous by deliberate intention. See darkness.
  • Unhonored, inglorious.
  • n. Obscurity.
  • To cover and shut off from view; conceal; hide.
  • To darken or make dark; dim.
  • To deprive of luster or glory; outshine; eclipse; depreciate; disparage; belittle.
  • To render doubtful or unintelligible; render indistinct or difficult of comprehension or explanation; disguise.
  • To hide; conceal one's self.

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

  • v. make obscure or unclear
  • adj. remote and separate physically or socially
  • v. make less visible or unclear
  • adj. not drawing attention
  • v. make unclear, indistinct, or blurred
  • v. reduce a vowel to a neutral one, such as a schwa
  • adj. difficult to find
  • v. make undecipherable or imperceptible by obscuring or concealing
  • adj. not famous or acclaimed
  • adj. marked by difficulty of style or expression
  • adj. not clearly understood or expressed


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

Middle English, from Old French obscur, from Latin obscūrus; see (s)keu- in Indo-European roots.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From French obscur, from Latin obscūrus ("dark, dusky, indistinct"), possibly, from ob ("over") + -scurus ("covered"), from root scu ("cover"), seen also in scutum ("a shield"); see scutum, sky.


  • Now, in that which you call the obscure indefinite sense of the word MATTER, it is plain, by your own confession, there was included no idea at all, no sense except an unknown sense; which is the same thing as none.

    Three Dialogues between Hylas and Philonous

  • Now, in that which you call the obscure indefinite sense of the word Matter, it is plain, by your own confession, there was included no idea at all, no sense except an unknown sense; which is the same thing as none.

    The Second Dialogue

  • In fact, it should come to pass that the word "obscure" should be removed from the pop music lexicon-it's always been an impossible task to keep up with every musician creating new, vital music, but today that ideal seems like a hopeless throwback to a time when much of society i.e. News

  • For 48 hours the people of Twitter guided me around the city, from backstreet art galleries in obscure eastern suburbs to glorious belle époque eating halls in Montmartre.

    Are guidebooks facing extinction?

  • Whereas before the fanfic might be published in obscure fanzines with a circulation of a hundred, now tens of thousands, maybe hundreds of thousands, can read these ... well, let's just call them "unauthorized derivative works."

    Someone Is Angry On the Internet

  • Telemachus plays rep hockey, which means we spend a lot of time hunting down arenas in obscure communities in our area of Ontario.

    Archive 2009-02-01

  • Stealing a radiator cap and planting radiating material in a victim: how obscure is that?

    Seeing my breath — at least I’m still breathing : Bev Vincent

  • Determination to dig out the obscure is evident in listing stories from California Highway Patrolmen, Our Dumb Animals, and Hungarian Studies in English.


  • Or is it only writing if you suffer in obscure poverty for it?

    Those shows « Write Anything

  • A short, baby-faced man, Wu, 42, assumes his cellphone is tapped and prefers meeting strangers in obscure spots outside town.

    Pollution in China's Tai Lake worse despite national push for environmentalism


Log in or sign up to get involved in the conversation. It's quick and easy.

  • verb: make unclear

    On the Smith's drive through the Grand Canyon, Mr. Smith's big head obscured much of Mrs. Robinson's view, so that she only saw momentary patches of red rock.

    adjective: known by only a few

    Many of the biggest movie stars were once obscure actors who got only bit roles in long forgotten films.

    October 15, 2016

  • obscure=hidden

    September 4, 2013

  • No problem, U. You do remember, it's non-existent? So yer welcome!

    September 19, 2007

  • I am doubly honored, indubitably cherished, inexorably exonerated and altogether made happy through and through by your fawning words of praise, dear friend. Unfortunately my trophy rack is quite full and has been for some time, so until I have in my budget a sum for new furniture, I shall have to deny your most generous gift.

    September 17, 2007

  • O, where'd you get the dictionary for that announcement paragraph? How splendid! I hereby present you with humble gratitude. *throwing coconut cream pie instead*

    Gosh, I feel so...obscure. :-D

    September 16, 2007

  • Maybe the silence will be deafening, but I cain't wait for the humble gratitude that will smack me in the face like a banana cream pie! *ducking*. Whoops! Hmmmmm. The weekend approacheth, nay, done arriveth, so I will be patient, with almost-baited breath for their fondly anticipated, jocular, if acerbic acceptance speeches (while I keep my powder dry!). :^P

    September 15, 2007

  • Yea, on this unplethorably traversed and grievously neglected (comment-wise) Wordie page I, again, reprise my nomination of r. and u. for the richly deserved (tho' so far nonexistent) award for enzaniousness nonpareil...whether they like it or not!

    September 15, 2007