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Is there a single word for ability to hide complexity or ability to hide details?

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Can you provide a little more context? In programming, we'd probably say "encapsulate," but if you're talking about a person, that wouldn't work. – Kit Z. Fox Jun 8 '11 at 11:11
Facade pattern ( en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Facade_pattern ), if you're computer guy :) – Anonymous Jun 8 '11 at 11:14
+1 for "Encapsulate". – David Jun 8 '11 at 11:57
Half the time, when seeing the "single-word-requests" tag I wonder if people are yearning for English to be more like German (or Welsh?) and to allow complexityhidingabilty. – RedGrittyBrick Jun 8 '11 at 15:02

10 Answers 10


the act of considering something as a general quality or characteristic, apart from concrete realities, specific objects, or actual instances.

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You might consider facile:

facile |ˈfasəl| adjective 1 (esp. of a theory or argument) appearing neat and comprehensive only by ignoring the true complexities of an issue; superficial. [NOAD]

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Not exactly a synonym, but how about "vulgarize"? It is more "make comprehensible to non-experts", but that might suit you, depending on the context.

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I'd use popularize in the meaning to present in generally understandable or interesting form. Vulgarize sounds a bit negative to me. – Philoto Jun 8 '11 at 11:24

From http://www.thefreedictionary.com/facade

Facade: An artificial or deceptive front

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How about:

that which disguises; something that serves or is intended for concealment of identity, character, or quality;

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The OP didn't specify that the hiding of complexity was dishonest. – Bill Jun 8 '11 at 20:40

In certain contexts you might use this:

legerdemain /ˌlejərdəˈmān, ˈlejərdəˌmān, /
skillful use of one's hands when performing conjuring tricks.

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There's always liar, telling a lie is a great way to cover up underlying complexity.

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He was glib in his explanations, despite a deep understanding of the issues.

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maybe you can try obfuscate

(computing) To alter code while preserving its behavior but conceal its structure and intent. We need to obfuscate these classes before we ship the final release.

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I think the meaning of "obfuscate" is closer to "ability to hide simplicity" – Lie Ryan Jun 8 '11 at 23:09
@Lie if you can obfuscate simplicity, I think you can also obfuscate complexity ;) – Paul Amerigo Pajo Jun 9 '11 at 3:05
@pageman: I think you're getting it wrong; "obfuscate" by itself, means taking something which is simple and make it more complex or appear more complex than it actually is. Obfuscation may be used to conceal data/information, but there are methods of concealing information that are not obfuscation. You can't obfuscate simplicity nor obfuscate complexity, they does not make sense. – Lie Ryan Jun 9 '11 at 7:40
@pageman: how do I contradict myself? I said '"obfuscate" is closer to "ability to hide simplicity"' and then I said 'obfuscating is a synonym of hiding simplicity'? I think you're totally confused of the meaning of the word. – Lie Ryan Jun 10 '11 at 20:08
@pageman: I give up trying to convince you. 3 people gave me thumbs up for my original comments, and there are two thumbs up on two my other comments, meanwhile none on any of yours; that means there are at least 3 people who agreed with me, and you know what, you are correct, we are all confused, all four of us are wrong. – Lie Ryan Jun 12 '11 at 8:16


make (something) simpler or easier to do or understand.


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Hi Ron, welcome to ELU! Can you provide a link to where you found this definition? See here for how to cite sources. Thanks! – erich May 8 '15 at 0:02

protected by tchrist May 8 '15 at 0:39

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