If something is obscure, it's vague and hard to see. Be careful if you're driving in heavy rain — the painted lines can be obscure.

Obscure comes from Latin obscurus, which can mean "dark, dim," "unclear, hard to understand," or "insignificant, humble." We tend to use obscure in the metaphorical senses: an obscure sound is unclear, an obscure village is hidden away in the countryside, and an obscure poet is little known and probably insignificant. Obscure can also be used as a verb. If you get really nervous when you speak during a debate, your embarrassing twitches and shaking hands can obscure your argument.

Definitions of obscure
  1. adjective
    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”
    synonyms: murky, vague
    not clear to the mind
  2. adjective
    marked by difficulty of style or expression
    “those who do not appreciate Kafka's work say his style is obscure
    synonyms: dark
    incomprehensible, uncomprehensible
    difficult to understand
  3. adjective
    not drawing attention
    “an obscure flaw”
    synonyms: unnoticeable
    inconspicuous, invisible
    not prominent or readily noticeable
  4. adjective
    not famous or acclaimed
    “an obscure family”
    synonyms: unknown, unsung
    not bringing honor and glory
  5. verb
    make unclear, indistinct, or blurred
    synonyms: blur, confuse, obnubilate
    conflate, confound, confuse
    mistake one thing for another
    see moresee less
    cause to become muddy
    type of:
    alter, change, modify
    cause to change; make different; cause a transformation
  6. verb
    make less visible or unclear
    “the big elm tree obscures our view of the valley”
    synonyms: becloud, befog, cloud, fog, haze over, mist, obnubilate
    see moresee less
    cast a shadow upon
    eclipse, occult
    cause an eclipse of (a celestial body) by intervention
    type of:
    conceal, hide
    prevent from being seen or discovered
  7. verb
    make obscure or unclear
    “The distinction was obscured
    synonyms: bedim, overcloud
    see moresee less
    type of:
    alter, change, modify
    cause to change; make different; cause a transformation
  8. verb
    make undecipherable or imperceptible by obscuring or concealing
    synonyms: blot out, hide, obliterate, veil
    efface, obliterate
    remove completely from recognition or memory
    see moresee less
    make mysterious
    type of:
    alter, change, modify
    cause to change; make different; cause a transformation
  9. adjective
    difficult to find
    “an obscure retreat”
    synonyms: hidden
    hidden on any grounds for any motive
  10. adjective
    remote and separate physically or socially
    “an obscure village”
    synonyms: apart, isolated
    not joined or linked together
  11. verb
    reduce a vowel to a neutral one, such as a schwa
    see moresee less
    type of:
    destress and thus weaken a sound when pronouncing it
Word Family
F1 image

Express yourself in 25 languages

  • Learn immersively - no memorization required
  • Build skills for real-world conversations
  • Get immediate feedback on your pronunciation
Get started for $7.99/month