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 biggest impediments are his defense, which is average, and the large number of contenders who surely are bidding. Henry Schulman,, "Giants mailbag: Is there a plan? Plus Bumgarner, Castellanos, concessions," 24 Dec. 2019 The main impediment was that mathematicians had no idea how to capture, in a precise way, the kinds of structures that might allow a set to avoid containing polynomial progressions. Quanta Magazine, "Mathematicians Catch a Pattern by Figuring Out How to Avoid It," 25 Nov. 2019 One impediment to starting Harrell more often is his 6-foot-8, 240-pound frame that is undersized against most, if not all, starting centers. Andrew Greif, Los Angeles Times, "Clippers coach Doc Rivers is experimenting with his most lethal starting lineup yet," 15 Oct. 2019 But now, the quality of Son’s investment portfolio is under scrutiny, and the biggest impediment to SoftBank earning an investment-grade rating is its lack of asset diversity. Washington Post, "Does Uber Make Masa a Savvy Investor or a Shopaholic?," 19 Sep. 2019 The biggest impediment to that happening was his coach, George Halas. Will Larkin,, "Ranking the 100 best Bears players ever: No. 22, George McAfee," 11 Aug. 2019 Yet there remain impediments, one of which is that people generally aren’t being given access to their entire records, including notes, images, and other important information. Harlan M. Krumholz, STAT, "An ‘Epic’ pushback as U.S. prepares for new era of empowering patient health data," 27 Jan. 2020 Pyongyang argues the moves are impediment to peace effort and responded by cutting off communication with the South and threatening to freeze Seoul out of nuclear talks with the US. Paula Hancocks, CNN, "Why North Korea wants nothing to do with South Korea," 19 Dec. 2019 In the past, Merck executives had signaled that high prices for biotech companies had been an impediment to getting deals done. James Paton, Fortune, "Cancer Drug Company Acquisitions Showcase Pharma Giants Big Push Into Oncology," 9 Dec. 2019

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

15 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Impediment.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 22 Feb. 2020.

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More Definitions for impediment


How to pronounce impediment (audio)

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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