What Does Eschew Obfuscation Mean?


To eschew something is to avoid doing it. Using obfuscation, as Santa Rosa Junior College points out, is to hide and confuse meaning, usually with inflated and needless words. Therefore the eschewment of obfuscation means to promulgate your esoteric cogitations without reference to jejune linguistic babblement. Put another way: Speak and write plainly and clearly.

Orwell Always Eschewed

  • George Orwell, author of "1984" and "Animal Farm," outlines writing methods that "eschew obfuscation" in his essay "Politics and the English Language," where he advises writers to avoid long words, needless diction or unnecessary metaphors. He believes his "simplify" philosophy, echoing that of Thoreau, should be rudimentary to all writers.

Irony in Definition

  • The Urban Dictionary confirms that the phrase "eschew obfuscation" is a joke, an irony that mocks its intent, since it uses long words where, to quote Orwell, "a short one will do." In lecturing writers about avoiding ambiguity, it hypocritically darkens its intended meaning. If you as a writer are concerned with your use of obfuscation, look to see if your readers, when sampling your new work, scurry to a dictionary. If they do, Orwell, like Thoreau, urges you to simplify.


  • Photo Credit TimHesterPhotography/iStock/Getty Images
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