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

Recent growth suggests that is possible, but also highlights that a lack of workers could be an impediment to growth. Eric Morath, WSJ, "Factory Workers’ New Perk: Job Security," 10 July 2018 Trump’s biggest impediment is Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who has infuriated Trump by failing to prosecute Trump’s enemies and, especially, by recusing himself from the Russia investigation. Jonathan Chait, Daily Intelligencer, "Why Hasn’t Trump Fired Scott Pruitt? Because Pruitt Can Fire Robert Mueller.," 3 July 2018 Improbability need not be an impediment in a musical. Jesse Green, New York Times, "Review: ‘On a Clear Day,’ Eternally Odd, Gets Yet Another Life," 28 June 2018 Here are the rules that are an impediment to foreign direct investment. Recode Staff, Recode, "Full transcript: Obama administration Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker on Recode Decode," 21 June 2018 Here was yet another debate that distilled down to that most enduringly human of impediments: the fundamental unknowability of the minds and hearts of other people. Megan Garber, The Atlantic, "The Fourth Estate in the Age of Bad Faith," 15 June 2018 That matters, because women still shoulder most child-rearing and caregiving duties in the U.S., making the lack of paid leave an impediment to their financial security and careers—and a major contributor to the gender pay gap. Valentina Zarya, Fortune, "Paid Leave, Harriet Tubman, Fearless Girl: Broadsheet April 20," 20 Apr. 2018 Yet to do so while also blitzing Curry leaves Green to operate without the slightest impediment. Rob Mahoney,, "Death by a Thousand Cuts: How Golden State Terrorized Cleveland at the Rim," 7 June 2018 What works for horror, though, is less conducive to science-fiction, where paltry budgets are more of an impediment to the look of the finished product. Gary Thompson,, "Sci-fi thriller 'Upgrade': When your body has a mind of its own," 30 May 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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Phrases Related to impediment

speech impediment

Statistics for impediment

Last Updated

11 Oct 2018

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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 \

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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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).


not any or not one

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