obscure#

obscure#
obscure adj
1 murky, gloomy, *dark, dim, dusky
Analogous words: shady, shadowy, umbrageous (see corresponding nouns at SHADE)
Contrasted words: *clear, lucid: *bright, brilliant, luminous
2 Obscure, dark, vague, enigmatic, cryptic, ambiguous, equivocal are applied to language or expression (or less often to causes, motives, or thoughts) with the meaning not sufficiently intelligible or clearly understood.
Something is obscure the true meaning of which is hidden or veiled, because of some fault or defect either in the thing itself or in the person trying to understand it
{

that decorum and orderliness without which all written speech must be ineffective and obscureEllis

}
{

this sordid, often obscure book, without visible motive or meaning— Purdy

}
{

the mere text of the play will often look scrappy and disjointed and obscure to a reader who does not bring to it the special theatrical imagination— Montague

}
Something is dark which is imperfectly revealed and therefore mysterious
{

I will utter dark sayings— Ps 78:2

}
{

dark hints of revenge

}
{

"Poison!" he whispered. But he pronounced it pye-zn, making it into a soft, dark, dangerous word— Dahl

}
Something is vague which is lacking in distinct outlines or in clear definition, either because it is too general or because it is so imperfectly conceived or thought out that it is incapable of clear formulation
{

managed to gain from Judith a vague half-promise that she would be ready as suggested— Gibbons

}
{

we shall never gain power from vague discourse about unknown or unassimilated facts— Grandgent

}
Something is enigmatic which puzzles, mystifies, and, often, baffles one seeking its true meaning or significance
{

the enigmatic announcement was an appropriate addition to the tangled story of this country's oddest piece of real estate— Thruelsen

}
{

here Shaw's stage direction . . . has the additional advantage of being so enigmatic that even the reader cannot understand it without aid from other Shavian sources— Nethercot

}
{

puzzling out the threats, or the enigmatic promises, of a starry sky— Pater

}
Something is cryptic which is stated or expressed darkly or enigmatically; the word often implies a definite intention to perplex or to challenge
{

you had to intercede, with your cryptic innuendoes and mysterious head-waggings— S. S. Van Dine

}
{

gave cryptic indications of his doubts but prudently refrained from open statements of them— Davies

}
Something is ambiguous which admits of more than one interpretation, largely because of the use of words having a dual or multiple meaning without giving an indication of which sense is intended
{

the title of this chapter is ambiguous. It promises a discussion of the end of the world, but it does not say which end— Eddington

}
{

we are here not far from the ambiguous doctrine that art is "expression," for "expression" may be too easily confused with "communication"— Ellis

}
Something is equivocal which permits a wrong or false impression, thereby admitting uncertainty and confusion or fostering error. As applied to use of words, equivocal is distinguishable from ambiguous in that it may suggest intent to deceive or evade
{

nor could he find much pleasure in the subtle, devious, and equivocal utterances of Solomon— Omnibook

}
{

veil the matter with utterances capable of more equivocal meaning— H. O. Taylor

}
In extended use equivocal is applied to something such as an act or a mode of life that admits of two possible or plausible interpretations, one of which may be harmful or discreditable
{

equivocal conduct

}
{

an equivocal gesture

}
Analogous words: abstruse, *recondite, occult, esoteric: difficult, *hard: complicated, intricate, involved (see COMPLEX): *mysterious, inscrutable
Antonyms: distinct, obvious: celebrated (as a person)
Contrasted words: *clear, perspicuous, lucid: *evident, manifest, obvious: express, *explicit, definite
obscure vb Obscure, dim, bedim, darken, eclipse, cloud, becloud, fog, befog, obfuscate all mean to make dark, indistinct, or confused. Of these terms obscure, dim, bedim, and darken all suggest the effect obtained by the lessening or the removal of illumination—the making of an object difficult to see clearly or the weakening or impairing of the ability to see with the eye or the mind.
Obscure stresses the indistinctness, often concealment, of the object or idea or the unclearness of the vision or the comprehension
{

there are readers of papers who . . . like the ordinary, average day, with its good human humdrum; they do not want to have its nature denied or obscuredMontague

}
{

the faded yellow building, its original austerity of line somewhat obscured by a comfortable porch— Amer. Guide Series: Vt.

}
Dim and bedim stress the diminishing of light or of clarity, intensity, or luster or the consequent diminishing of capacity to see, distinguish, or comprehend
{

celestial tears bedimmed her large blue eyes— Byron

}
{

the old patriotic glow began to dim its ineffectual fires— H. M. Jones

}
Darken, although like dim and bedim suggesting a diminishing of illumination, is much richer metaphorically in suggesting strongly the alteration of an object or the impairment of clear or normal vision or mental comprehension by reason of confusion, ignorance, or evil
{

the yearly migrations of passenger pigeons . . . literally darkening the sky— Amer. Guide Series: Mich.

}
{

his intellect was indeed darkened by many superstitions and prejudices— Macaulay

}
{

evils enough to darken all his goodness— Shak.

}
Eclipse may stand alone in suggesting the effect of an actual astronomical eclipse, the partial or total darkening or concealment of one object by another and, hence, the overshadowing or supplanting of one object by another
{

in the English field, Anglo-Saxon never eclipsed the study of Shakespeare or Milton— Guérard

}
Cloud, becloud, fog, befog, and obfuscate all suggest the obstruction or impairment of vision by clouds, fog, or vapor or, in extended use, the making of the mental perception or object of that perception murky or confused. Cloud and becloud stress the obscuring of the object, or the murky view of the object, becloud being somewhat more literary than cloud
{

the beginnings of our physical universe are necessarily beclouded in the swirling mists of countless ages past— F. L. Whipple

}
{

smoke clouding the prospect before us

}
{

the actual issues clouded by prejudice and politics

}
{

reasoning clouded by hysteria

}
Fog and befog are applied possibly more frequently than cloud and becloud to matters of the understanding or mental comprehension and usually suggest a greater obstruction or impairment of clear vision of eye and mind and, so, a greater and more unnecessary indistinctness, illogicality, or confusion; fog, however, occurs freely in both the basic sense and extended or metaphorical use while befog is uncommon in literal application
{

their breaths fogged the windshield— Hunter

}
{

a time of . . . pressure for him and, if his memory fogged slightly, he was not alone— S. L. A. Marshall

}
{

questions of . . . shaking hands or not befog many people— Miall

}
{

the willfully created misunderstandings that so often befog the American political scene— Sandburg

}
Obfuscate, a somewhat pompous word, suggests strongly an avoidable, often willful, obscuring of an object or confusing of the mind by darkening or illogicality
{

the process, not of enlightening, but of obfuscating the mind— Thoreau

}
Analogous words: *hide, conceal, screen: *disguise, cloak, mask, camouflage: *misrepresent, belie, falsify
Antonyms: illuminate, illumine

New Dictionary of Synonyms. 2014.

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