ob·scure (ŏb-skyr, əb-)
adj. ob·scur·er, ob·scur·est
1. Deficient in light; dark: the obscure depths of a cave.
a. So faintly perceptible as to lack clear delineation; indistinct: an obscure figure in the fog.
b. Indistinctly heard; faint.
c. Linguistics Having the reduced, neutral sound represented by schwa (ə).
a. Far from centers of human population: an obscure village.
b. Out of sight; hidden: an obscure retreat.
4. Not readily noticed or seen; inconspicuous: an obscure flaw.
5. Of undistinguished or humble station or reputation: an obscure poet; an obscure family.
6. Not clearly understood or expressed; ambiguous or vague: Some say that Blake's style is obscure and complex. See Synonyms at ambiguous.
tr.v. ob·scured, ob·scur·ing, ob·scures
1. To make dim, indistinct, or impossible to see: "His face was obscured in shadow" (Rosemary Mahoney). See Synonyms at block.
2. To make difficult to discern mentally or understand: The meaning of the text was obscured by its difficult language.
3. To diminish the stature of; overshadow or detract from: "[His] character was so repellent that it has obscured his historical role" (David Rains Wallace).
4. Linguistics To reduce (a vowel) to the neutral sound represented by schwa (ə).
Something obscure or unknown.
[Middle English, from Old French obscur, from Latin obscūrus; see (s)keu- in the Appendix of Indo-European roots.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.