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

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 And marketing departments, who were in charge of pricing decisions, often saw a higher price as an impediment to sales. Billy Kenber, STAT, 14 May 2022 More likely, Musk sees Twitter’s censorship as an impediment to its growth, which has lagged well behind its social media rivals. Jacob Carpenter, Fortune, 14 Apr. 2022 Manchin has long been viewed as an impediment to congressional action on climate change, though his stance has apparently softened. Tim De Chant, Ars Technica, 20 Jan. 2022 Reformers saw it as an impediment both to mass literacy and to political progress. Ian Buruma, The New Yorker, 10 Jan. 2022 Nearly one-third of older women cite age discrimination as an impediment to finding a job. Washington Post, 12 Oct. 2021 Still, cost is an impediment to a more extensive revamp: Ward would like to install more efficient air filters, but the buildings — some of which are 30 years old — would have to be retrofitted to accommodate them. Liz Szabo, CNN, 22 Apr. 2022 Servant suggests that in a country where integrity is an impediment to political advancement, honest public servants can only be found working the most mundane jobs in total obscurity. David Klion, The New Republic, 7 Apr. 2022 Ziegler said not knowing whether Leatherwood will be playing guard or tackle this coming season won’t be an impediment to his team-building. Mark Inabinett |, al, 12 Mar. 2022 See More

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.

First Known Use of impediment

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Learn More About impediment

Time Traveler for impediment

Time Traveler

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

See more words from the same century

Dictionary Entries Near impediment

impedient impediment



See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for impediment

Last Updated

24 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Impediment.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 24 May. 2022.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

More Definitions for impediment


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


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

More from Merriam-Webster on impediment

Nglish: Translation of impediment for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of impediment for Arabic Speakers


Test Your Vocabulary

Eponyms: Words Named After People

True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!