in ,


Definition: To cloud over, obscure, darken, or dim.

Pronunciation: Ob-new-bill-ate


Obnubilate comes directly from Latin.  Nubes, the root word, means clouds, while obnubilare means to cover with clouds.  The first known use of this word was in 1583.

Why this word?

I first discovered this word while reading one of my favorite authors, Neal Stephenson.  He uses it in his book Quicksilver to describe a town crowded with the machinations of progress.  The occasional verbosity of his works suggests the type of situations in which this word is typically found.  It is not a conversational word so much as a word for more formal or verbose texts.  I can’t imagine a conversational situation in which I could use this word and not have someone look at me quite strangely, but in the written world there are a great many more applicable situations.  I also enjoy the almost musical sound that the word possesses, and the imagery it conveys is much more poetic than to simply say “clouded over” or “obscured”.

How to use the word obnubilate in a sentence?

“His point was obnubilated by the inaccuracy of his metaphors and his bedraggled appearance.”

“The mountain peak was obnubilated not by clouds as one would logically expect but by the sight of a giant zeppelin passing by.”

“For most people her excellent parenting skills obnubilated the plain fact that she was a rather horrible person.”


What do you think?

1000 points
Upvote Downvote

Written by Kate Fulton

Kate Fulton has a bachelor’s degree in classics and psychology from the University of Massachusetts and is working on a library science degree from Simmons College. She has always been fascinated by words- their usage, spelling, and etymology. Kate may be one of the few people who enjoyed the verbal section of the SAT. Yes, she is a word geek. Currently she bores her husband and young daughter with her love of vocabulary.


Leave a Reply