Dr. Goodword wrote:• obfuscate •
Pronunciation: ahb-fê-skayt • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Verb, transitive
Meaning: 1. To dim or darken, to obscure by light deprivation or other means. 2. To make confusing, to obscure the meaning of, to make less comprehensible.
Notes: The spelling of this word is rather easy since there is a sound corresponding to each letter except the silent E at the end. However, remember that the silent E makes the preceding A long, so even it has a function. The noun is obfuscation and anyone known for his or her obfuscation is an obfuscator. The adjective meaning "tending to obfuscate" is obfuscatory. There is, however, another rather rare and dated adjective with the same meaning, obfuscous. Use it if you like to live on the edge.
In Play: The basic meaning of this Good Word is "to darken", as in, "Closing the blinds to cover his activity had obfuscated the pantry to the point that Les Hyde could not find the chocolates." The metaphorical extension of this word applies to either intentionally or unintentionally confusing matters: "Ivan Oder's explanation of the reasons for the new heat-activated bidets in the restrooms only led to further obfuscation."
Word History: Today's Good Word is the English adaptation of Latin obfuscatus, the past participle of the verb obfuscare "to darken". This verb is built of ob- "over, toward, against" + fuscare "to darken", a verb sharing a root with fuscus "dark." The prefix ob- was subject to the process of "assimilation" whereby a linguistic sound takes on the properties of a contiguous sound. So obfuscare later became offuscare and this spelling, too, slipped into English as offuscate but did not gain enough traction to remain. (Let there be no obfuscation of our gratitude to Michael Oberndorf for suggesting today's absolutely fascinating Good Word.)
Use this forum to discuss past Good Words.
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Today's Good Word:
I never knew there was a name for them. Here's a list I have:misterdoe wrote:There is a fumblerule used by English teachers, "eschew obfuscation, espouse elucidation," to encourage clear and succinct writing.
1. Verbs has to agree with their subjects.
2. Prepositions are not words to end sentences with.
3. And don't start a sentence with a conjunction.
4. It is wrong to ever split an infinitive.
5. Avoid cliches like the plague. (They're old hat).
6. Always avoid annoying alliteration.
7. Be more or less specific.
8. Parenthetical remarks (however relevant) are (usually) unnecessary.
9. Also, too, never, ever use repetitive redundancies.
10. No sentence fragments. No comma splices, run-ons are bad too.
11. Contractions aren't helpful and shouldn't be used.
12. Foreign words and phrases are not apropos.
13. Do not be redundant; do not use more words than necessary; it's highly superfluous.
14. One should never generalize.
15. Comparisons are as bad as cliches.
16. Don't use no double negatives.
17. Eschew ampersands & abbreviations, etc.
18. One-word sentences? Eliminate.
19. Analogies in writing are like feathers on a snake.
20. The passive voice is to be ignored.
21. Eliminate commas, that are, not necessary. Parenthetical words however should be enclosed in commas.
22. Never use a big word when a diminutive one would suffice.
23. Kill all exclamation points!!!!
24. Use words correctly, irregardless of how others use them.
25. Understatement is probably not the best way to propose earth-shattering ideas.
26. Use the apostrophe in it's proper place and omit it when its not needed.
27. As Ralph Waldo Emerson said, "I hate quotations. Tell me what you know."
28. If you've heard it once, you've heard it a thousand times: resist hyperbole; not one writer in a million can use it correctly.
29. Puns are for children, not groan readers.
30. Go around the barn at high noon to avoid colloquialisms.
31. Even if a mixed metaphor sings, it should be derailed.
32. Who needs rhetorical questions?
33. Exaggeration is a million times worse than understatement.
34. Proofread carefully to see if you any words out.
Life is like playing chess with chessmen who each have thoughts and feelings and motives of their own.
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"Don't use no double negatives" reminds me of an episode of what was basically a sitcom that used to run on PBS some years ago, called Watch Your Mouth. (How do you go about doing that, anyway? ) The teacher was explaining why double negatives are bad, leading the class clown to reply, "I don't see what the big deal is, really. I mean, on that commercial where they say, 'Nobody doesn't like Sara Lee' -- to me that means, Don't nobody like Sara Lee!"
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