I. adjective Etymology: Middle English, from Anglo-French oscur, obscur, from Latin obscurus Date: 15th century 1. 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 adverbobscureness 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.

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