Etymology: Middle English, from Anglo-French oscur, obscur, from Latin obscurus
Date: 15th century
a. dark, dim
b. shrouded in or hidden by darkness
c. not clearly seen or easily distinguished ; faint <obscure markings> 2. not readily understood or clearly expressed; also mysterious 3. relatively unknown: as a. remote, secluded <an obscure village> b. not prominent or famous <an obscure poet> 4. constituting the unstressed vowel \ə\ or having unstressed \ə\ as its value • obscurely adverb • obscureness noun Synonyms: obscure, dark, vague, enigmatic, cryptic, ambiguous, equivocal mean not clearly understandable. obscure implies a hiding or veiling of meaning through some inadequacy of expression or withholding of full knowledge <obscure poems>. dark implies an imperfect or clouded revelation often with ominous or sinister suggestion <muttered dark hints of revenge>. vague implies a lack of clear formulation due to inadequate conception or consideration <a vague sense of obligation>. enigmatic stresses a puzzling, mystifying quality <enigmatic occult writings>. cryptic implies a purposely concealed meaning <cryptic hints of hidden treasure>. ambiguous applies to language capable of more than one interpretation <an ambiguous directive>. equivocal applies to language left open to differing interpretations with the intention of deceiving or evading <moral precepts with equivocal phrasing>. II. transitive verb (obscured; obscuring) Date: 15th century 1. to make dark, dim, or indistinct 2. to conceal or hide by or as if by covering 3. to reduce (a vowel) to the value \ə\ • obscuration noun III. noun Date: 1667 obscurity
New Collegiate Dictionary. 2001.