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 Social-distancing requirements and the risks of the COVID-19 pandemic probably don't pose much of an impediment for his Christmas mission either. Julia Musto, Fox News, "How does NORAD track Santa on Christmas Eve?," 25 Dec. 2020 Energy consumption is an impediment to some AI deployments. Sara Castellanos, WSJ, "Smarter Cars: Auto Makers Experiment With Chips That Think Like Humans," 10 Dec. 2020 Still, the nascent crypto industry is optimistic that Gensler will be more open to digital assets than former SEC Chairman Jay Clayton, who was widely seen as an impediment to their adoption. Benjamin Bain,, "From Goldman to SEC: Gensler’s Next Stop Worries Wall Street," 14 Jan. 2021 The primary impediment to doing that right now: Amazon’s retail growth. Jay Greene, Washington Post, "Amazon’s big holiday shopping advantage: An in-house shipping network swollen by pandemic-fueled growth," 27 Nov. 2020 Not to mention the greatest impediment of all, the day-to-day, inning-to-inning, minute-to-minute burdens of coping with a pandemic. Kevin Sherrington, Dallas News, "MLB finally made progress toward starting a season, but the problems it still faces are staggering," 23 June 2020 Sufficient cap space is currently an impediment given Chicago currently has scant wiggle room in 2021. Nate Davis, USA TODAY, "Five potential NFL landing spots for Carson Wentz if he leaves Eagles," 21 Dec. 2020 Remote work is required when it can be done without a significant impediment to the business’s operation. Aubrey Wieber, Anchorage Daily News, "Anchorage’s modified ‘hunker-down’ begins Tuesday. Here’s a look at what’s changing.," 29 Nov. 2020 Bad weather hasn't been an impediment for Starlink user Curtis Nims in Idaho. Jon Brodkin, Ars Technica, "SpaceX Starlink has some hiccups as expected, but users are impressed," 12 Nov. 2020

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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Time Traveler for impediment

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for impediment

Last Updated

17 Feb 2021

Cite this Entry

“Impediment.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 26 Feb. 2021.

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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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