Definition of obscurity in English:


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nounplural noun obscurities

  • 1The state of being unknown, inconspicuous, or unimportant.

    ‘he is too good a player to slide into obscurity’
    • ‘Whether or not it would break and send us back into complete obscurity it was unknown at the time - but we knew that this, this night was the beginning of something special.’
    • ‘Talking of slides into obscurity, William reports that the Socialist Workers Party, now admit to having little more than 3,000 members.’
    • ‘There is a way out - retirement and self-imposed obscurity.’
    • ‘Where fighting spirit is required in enormous quantities to avoid the inevitable slide into Nationwide League obscurity.’
    • ‘Liverpool need to beat Portsmouth at home on Tuesday to halt the slide towards mid-table obscurity.’
    • ‘Anxiousness sets in as the prospect of a government-funded retirement fades into obscurity and financial planning has suddenly become a reality.’
    • ‘But the film disappeared from sight after that viewing, sliding into complete obscurity and while I never forgot it I also never even learned its name.’
    • ‘I was immortal then, a tiny speck in the grand scheme of things, someone who was to make a mark on the world and seemed to just let that mark slide away into obscurity.’
    • ‘The city's police began looking for Brown, but when early efforts did not yield success, the case began to slide into obscurity.’
    • ‘The album and the artist slid into obscurity, forgotten by all but the few who stumbled across a copy in a dusty cellar.’
    • ‘The Office of Strategic Influence went from obscurity to infamy to oblivion during a spin cycle that lasted just seven days in late February.’
    • ‘There being no second chamber in Holyrood, why not use Westminster as a kind of House of Lords, where former leaders can harmlessly serve out their twilight days in obscurity?’
    • ‘Anonymity refers to the apparent obscurity of the Net's users.’
    • ‘The aplomb with which he emerged from that obscurity, manipulating the media with consummate skill, allowed the dissemination of Christ's message to gain a new momentum across the planet.’
    • ‘It's the salvation of a band nearly lost to sophomore obscurity; a rebirth made possible only through a stunning grasp for the humblest roots of American rock 'n' roll.’
    • ‘Our family in general isn't very close, so there's nothing I can really do about that, and I'm still waiting for the right lady to pluck me out of my obscurity.’
    • ‘Grenada's emergence from international obscurity was the culmination of four turbulent years of revolution and social experimentation.’
    • ‘Here I am toiling away in relative obscurity in the land that time forgot, and you're bitching that you haven't got the time to write an article which would be printed in the New York Times?’
    • ‘Rather than following the standard rules of composition, the figures and objects appear to hang in obscurity, floating across a somber background.’
    • ‘Amazing what an appearance on the Sunday morning shows does for your popularity - even though Mark would have preferred to see him languishing in obscurity.’
    insignificance, inconspicuousness, unimportance, anonymity, lack of fame, lack of honour, lack of recognition, lack of renown, non-recognition, ingloriousness, limbo, twilight, oblivion
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    1. 1.1The quality of being difficult to understand.
      ‘poems of impenetrable obscurity’
      • ‘These large allegorical works, even when seen in person, present difficulties of access due to two sorts of obscurity.’
      • ‘Given the obscurity and perceived difficulty of his oeuvre, he is literature's white whale, Rosebud, and Bigfoot combined.’
      • ‘These are the lost poems of the lost modernist, David Jones, a man whose allusive obscurity won him fans like Eliot and Auden but robbed him of his place in college curricula.’
      • ‘Given the extreme obscurity of the words used, and the sheer number of them, I have a hard time believing that these were words he came across in the course of his regular reading.’
      incomprehensibility, impenetrability, unintelligibility, obscureness, complexity, intricacy, opacity, opaqueness, unclearness
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    2. 1.2A thing that is unclear or difficult to understand.
      ‘the obscurities in his poems and plays’
      • ‘He explained that Turner's ‘own special gift was that of expressing mystery and the obscurities rather than the definition of form’.’
      • ‘In the end, however, one may wonder how far the various difficulties and obscurities surrounding what he writes on this score really impinge upon his fundamental aims.’
      • ‘At the front of the line were the all-nighters, hard-core sci-fi fans, amateur Civil War historians, and chasers of obscurities, rumored to have been there since before midnight.’
      • ‘The obscurities of literary theory are mercifully avoided, frequently by such witty contemporary reference and colloquial language which bring Shakespeare into the world of today's reader.’
      • ‘The focus here is on the ‘incredibly strange and outsider’ realm, meaning that some extraordinary obscurities have already been made available.’
      • ‘The necessity for clarity of meaning for his listening public imposed a new discipline on both his poetry and prose pieces and this improved his work, exposing obscurities.’
      • ‘Tom Thorn is a Victoria writer who harbours an unnatural obsession with sports obscurities.’
      • ‘It's eccentricity and garish wrapping make the album a supermarket standout but one wonders what motivates sunset strip rock stars produce such obscurities.’
      • ‘In addition to the footnotes that were provided in the original commentaries, the editors have clarified obscurities in their own footnotes.’
      • ‘Balancing out the aforementioned examples of popular sentiment are a host of obscurities from various branches of urbane soul.’
      • ‘Thus, some obscurities and confusions in Chappell's account mirror the reality of the civil rights struggle itself.’
      • ‘But if you think a textbook should be generally free of significant obscurities and confusions, then it fails.’
      • ‘By the end of his book, Feiler is indulging in the same kind of circular obscurities that repel, rather than seduce, skeptics.’
      • ‘But even aside from obscurities in the notion of ‘the meaning’ of a predicate, this claim seems to me wrong.’
      • ‘No more did wine wannabes have to resurrect their schoolboy French, or brave the obscurities of the appellation system to order a bottle of plonk.’
      • ‘We considered explanatory notes to be essential, to help the reader make sense of obscurities in the text and to see the quote in historical context.’
      • ‘They are placing astrology on the same level as fantasy, which makes their long-winded obscurities largely redundant.’
      • ‘Time for more of the oddities, obscurities and outrageous offerings from the wonderful world wide web.’
      • ‘Not for Duncan the abstractions and obscurities of academic Marxism.’
      • ‘We can put up with many obscurities and apparent irrelevancies, without assuming that this makes no sense.’
      enigma, puzzle, mystery, difficulty, problem, complication, intricacy, ambiguity
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/əbˈskyo͝orədē/ /əbˈskjʊrədi/


Late Middle English from Old French obscurite, from Latin obscuritas, from obscurus ‘dark’.