im·​ped·​i·​ment | \im-ˈpe-də-mənt \

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

But the one impediment, the one worry, these trade tariffs that could escalate. Fox News, "Rep. Steve Scalise on 2018 midterms: Don't let Democrats reverse our success," 17 Aug. 2018 Yet those impediments, the current tension, the tense atmosphere essentially have no solid reason behind it. Jennie Neufeld, Vox, "Read the full transcript of the Helsinki press conference," 16 July 2018 This disproportion of means between a simple blog and a billing company is an impediment to any kind of justice in the American judicial system. Cyrus Farivar, Ars Technica, "Why is a Lisbon soccer team trying to unmask Portuguese bloggers in US court?," 12 Oct. 2018 The only impediment to that pursuit is Disney and Pixar's Incredibles 2, which opens on Friday and is expected to do major business. Patrick Brzeski, The Hollywood Reporter, "China Box Office: 'Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom' Rampages to $112M Debut," 18 June 2018 But the biggest impediment is that trust telecom companies have been promising large investments in infrastructure for years, without following through. David Dayen, The New Republic, "T-Mobile’s Corporate Hypocrisy," 30 Apr. 2018 Begin to feel into the edges and fences, and notice which feel like important maintenance maneuvers to safeguard a selfhood that’s for you and you alone, and which have actually become impediments to growth. Bess Matassa, Teen Vogue, "Weekly Horoscopes Aug 6-12," 6 Aug. 2012 Even today, different views of the Korean War could remain an impediment when Trump and Kim negotiate in Singapore. David Jackson, USA TODAY, "Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un: Still fighting the Korean War," 5 June 2018 Prices weren't an impediment selling that 30,000-ticket allotment. Michael Casagrande,, "Here's why an Alabama series with Notre Dame, Texas makes sense," 29 Mar. 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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Last Updated

6 Dec 2018

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Time Traveler for impediment

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

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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 \

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 \

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 \

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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to enclose within walls

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