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When obfuscation is a good thing

Working on a technical book reminds the Monitor's language columnist how language is about connotation as well as denotation.

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About all that most of us know about obfuscation is that we should eschew it. And what about ? Have you ever, ever heard anyone use this word in conversation?

The word sounds, depending on which dictionary you take your cues from, variously like a sneeze or an effort to spit something out, perhaps after having bitten into it and found it wanting.

And the we are to eschew, or avoid, according to the Online Etymology Dictionary, comes from a Latin word referring to darkening. It was originally a medical term, referring to the darkening of a sore.

 

Nowadays it's used to mean the confusion or bewilderment caused by someone who covers his utterances with a protective layer of blather.

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