When something's unclear it's hard to see or understand. If the directions for assembling your new desk are unclear, you might end up with two upside-down drawers and a handful of unused nuts and bolts.

If you don't explain something accurately, it will be unclear to the person who's trying to understand. And when a photograph is badly out of focus, it's also unclear — you can't quite see the details. You can also use this adjective for the feeling that results in these situations: "I'm unclear about exactly who's in this photo and why you wanted me to see it."

Definitions of unclear
  1. adjective
    poorly stated or described
    synonyms: ill-defined
    see moresee less
    clear, well-defined
    accurately stated or described
  2. adjective
    not clear to the mind
    “the law itself was unclear on that point”
    “the reason for their actions is unclear to this day”
    having more than one possible meaning
    blurred, clouded
    unclear in form or expression
    confusing, perplexing, puzzling
    lacking clarity of meaning; causing confusion or perplexity
    murky, obscure, vague
    not clearly understood or expressed
    not transmitting or reflecting light or radiant energy; impenetrable to sight
    incomprehensible, uncomprehensible
    difficult to understand
    vague or not clearly defined or stated
    not clearly defined or easy to perceive or understand
    see moresee less
    readily apparent to the mind
    having or exhibiting a single clearly defined meaning
    broad, unsubtle
    lacking subtlety; obvious
    clear-cut, distinct, trenchant
    clearly or sharply defined to the mind
    crystal clear, limpid, lucid, luculent, pellucid, perspicuous
    (of language) transparently clear; easily understandable
    prima facie
    as it seems at first sight
    clearly evident to the mind
    having the clarity and freshness of immediate experience
    comprehendible, comprehensible
    capable of being comprehended or understood
    precise; explicit and clearly defined
    easy to perceive; especially clearly outlined
    show more antonyms...
  3. adjective
    not easily deciphered
    synonyms: indecipherable, undecipherable, unreadable
    (of handwriting, print, etc.) not legible
Word Family

Test prep from the experts

Boost your test score with programs developed by Vocabulary.com’s experts.

  • Proven methods: Learn faster, remember longer with our scientific approach.
  • Personalized plan: We customize your experience to maximize your learning.
  • Strategic studying: Focus on the words that are most crucial for success.


  • Number of words: 500+
  • Duration: 8 weeks or less
  • Time: 1 hour / week


  • Number of words: 500+
  • Duration: 10 weeks or less
  • Time: 1 hour / week


  • Number of words: 700+
  • Duration: 10 weeks
  • Time: 1 hour / week