im·​ped·​i·​ment | \ im-ˈpe-də-mənt How to pronounce impediment (audio) \

Definition of impediment

1 : something that impedes especially : an impairment (such as a stutter or a lisp) that interferes with the proper articulation of speech
2 : a bar or hindrance (such as lack of sufficient age) to a lawful marriage

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Did You Know?

Impediment comes from a Latin verb that meant "to interfere with" or "to get in the way of progress", as if by tripping up the feet of someone walking. In English, impediment still suggests an obstruction or obstacle along a path; for example, a lack of adequate roads and bridges would be called an impediment to economic development. Impediments usually get in the way of something we want. So we may speak of an impediment to communication, marriage, or progress--but something that slows the progress of aging, disease, or decay is rarely called an impediment.

Examples of impediment in a Sentence

tough going for the burros on the canyon trail, even without the added impediment of heavy loads

Recent Examples on the Web

The president had, after all, cast off in precisely the opposite direction after coming to power in December 2015, seeking to remove many of the clumsy impediments to market forces imposed by his predecessor, Cristina Fernández de Kirchner. The Economist, "In Argentina, Mauricio Macri's dying government mimics its opponents," 5 Sep. 2019 Apparently, no one wondered, while considering the list of impediments to the progress of Native Americans, just how high an offending bell at UC Santa Cruz ranks. Victor Davis Hanson, National Review, "The Cowardly Incoherence of Name-Changing, Statue-Toppling, and other Iconoclasms," 25 June 2019 The criminal cases sit trapped in a legal limbo common to politically sensitive investigations in Mexico, where corruption remains one of the greatest impediments to the country’s fledgling rule of law. Azam Ahmed, New York Times, "Mexico Could Press Bribery Charges. It Just Hasn’t.," 11 June 2018 Kondo said the greatest impediment to clearing clutter is nostalgia. Alia E. Dastagir, USA TODAY, "There's a war being waged on your stuff. Should you give in and 'declutter'?," 8 Feb. 2018 The bugs seem to particularly like areas behind impediments, where the water swirls and is aerated, such as below beaver dams or road culverts. Keith Matheny, Detroit Free Press, "This endangered water beetle is found only in a few streams Up North," 16 July 2019 But serious impediments remain in this market, Schain added. Sam Wood,, "Mayor Kenney calls again for state stores to sell marijuana," 2 May 2018 Some law professors following the case said that significant impediments remain for the plaintiffs. Jonathan O'connelll And David A. Fahrenthold,, "From Mueller to Stormy to 'emoluments,' legal teams aim to expose Trump Organization," 30 Mar. 2018 At the same time, the most serious impediments to gun control remain — and even the Quinnipiac poll shows them. Aaron Blake, Washington Post, "Does gun control suddenly have real momentum?," 20 Feb. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'impediment.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of impediment

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Statistics for impediment

Last Updated

13 Sep 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for impediment

The first known use of impediment was in the 14th century

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More Definitions for impediment



English Language Learners Definition of impediment

: something that makes it difficult to do or complete something : something that interferes with movement or progress
: a condition that makes it difficult to speak normally


im·​ped·​i·​ment | \ im-ˈpe-də-mənt How to pronounce impediment (audio) \

Kids Definition of impediment

1 : something that interferes with movement or progress
2 : a condition that makes it difficult to speak normally


im·​ped·​i·​ment | \ im-ˈped-ə-mənt How to pronounce impediment (audio) \

Medical Definition of impediment

: something that impedes children with deafness or hearing impediments especially : an impairment (as a stutter or a lisp) that interferes with the proper articulation of speech

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im·​ped·​i·​ment | \ im-ˈpe-də-mənt How to pronounce impediment (audio) \

Legal Definition of impediment

: something that prevents or interferes with a process, power, or right should have known of the legal impediments to the execution of any judgment against the police juryPenalber v. Blount, 550 So. 2d 577 (1989) specifically : a bar to the formation of a valid contract or marriage — compare nullity

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Comments on impediment

What made you want to look up impediment? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


authorized for issue (as a bond)

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