Abstruse and Obtuse



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How to use the words Abstruse and Obtuse?


Most people first encounter “obtuse” in geometry class, where it labels an angle of more than 90 degrees. Imagine what sort of blunt arrowhead that kind of angle would make and you will understand why it also has a figurative meaning of “dull, stupid.” But people often mix the word up with “abstruse,” which means “difficult to understand.”


When you mean to criticize something for being needlessly complex or baffling, the word you need is not “obtuse,” but “abstruse.”

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