Also found in: Thesaurus, Medical, Legal.


Not undesirably noticeable or blatant; inconspicuous.

un′ob·tru′sive·ly adv.
un′ob·tru′sive·ness n.



low-key Laid-back, subdued, toned-down, understated, purposefully low-profile. Music played in a low key is softer and more muted than that played in a higher one. Use of the term dates from the late 19th or early 20th century.

With the UDA building its barricades, how long can the “low key” phase last. (The Guardian, July, 1972)

a low profile Inconspicuous behavior or policy; an unobtrusive or restrained existence away from the limelight; often in the phrase to keep a low profile ‘to stay out of the public eye.’ Profile in this case symbolizes one’s public image, and low has the sense of not highly visible, nonprotruding—as in low relief.

The Nixon doctrine of “low profile” involvement, in other words a maximum of aid and a minimum of US troops. (The Guardian, August, 1970)

wallflower A woman who does not join in the festivities at a dance or ball, either by choice or because she does not have a partner; by stereotypic implication, a shy or homely woman. In the world of plants, the wallflower (Cheiranthus cheiri) is a yellow or orange flower that grows on old walls and buildings. According to a legend recounted by the English poet Robert Herrick (1591-1674), a woman who had long been kept in captivity tried to reach her lover by climbing down a steep wall, but slipped and died. Herrick continues:

Love, in pity of the deed,
And her loving luckless speed,
Turned her to this plant we call Now the “flower of the wall.”

Thus, a girl or woman who sits along a wall at a dance is sometimes called a “wallflower,” likening her to the blossom of the same name.

[He] dances quadrilles with every wallflower in the room. (New Monthly Magazine, 1840)

ThesaurusAntonymsRelated WordsSynonymsLegend:
Noun1.unobtrusiveness - the quality of not sticking out in an unwelcome way
inconspicuousness - the quality of being not easily seen
obtrusiveness - an unwelcome conspicuousness
References in classic literature ?
But here, Elinor could neither wonder nor blame; and when she saw, as she assisted Marianne from the carriage, that she had been crying, she saw only an emotion too natural in itself to raise any thing less tender than pity, and in its unobtrusiveness entitled to praise.
At a sufficiently delicate sign, the police gathered round the large man to lead him away; but their unobtrusiveness was somewhat staggered by the remarkable appearance of Father Brown, who was on his hands and knees on the carpet in the doorway, as if engaged in some kind of undignified prayers.
A transmitter that can be easily installed on the clients ankle with maximum comfort, and unobtrusiveness, with a 12-month replaceable battery.
But in addition to such devices, this trust had also to be nurtured by the book's underlying unobtrusiveness, that is, by its neutrality and transparency as a medium that readers could ignore in favor of the content it carried, assuming, without thinking much about it, that the latter was not distorted or corrupted by the printing process.
IT was a period in his life when success seemed to come automatically to those associated with him, a high point of activity and acclaim which extended like a plateau upon which he stood puffing away at the inevitable cigarette, conspicuous only by his unobtrusiveness.
For the noise made on the picket lines outside the gallery is in direct contrast to the silence guards typically maintain within its rooms; indeed, insofar as guards function to monitor visitor behaviour and worse, deter vandalism or theft, their day-to-day work entails a contradiction between the need for conspicuous presence and that for unobtrusiveness.
He blends in as inoffensive background noise, unseen and unheard, and it's precisely because of his unobtrusiveness that he's able to retrieve a small bundle from an accident scene--a package that turns out to be stuffed full of banknotes and baggies of unidentified white powder.
The widespread availability and unobtrusiveness of small digital cameras have given the soldiers of recent wars the ability to create ostensibly "unmediated" perspectives on life in combat zones.
Summary: Gray, when not taken as the zone between black and white but as the color of unobtrusiveness and understatement -- as well as secretive sway -- has long been employed to characterize issues and people related to management in general and finance in particular.
With his natural unobtrusiveness, Sukey was the perfect man to participate in Rickey's elaborate clandestine stratagem to integrate baseball.
And even the North American and United States Gazette remarked in its review of Dickens's performances, "There is so little attempt at display, but such a vivid portraying of his characters, and such a quiet unobtrusiveness of himself, that we almost forget the great Charles Dickens whom we stood up from daylight to get a ticket to see, and are wholly absorbed in the changing experiences of old Scrooge" ("Mr.