ob·​so·​les·​cence | \ ˌäb-sə-ˈle-sᵊn(t)s How to pronounce obsolescence (audio) \

Definition of obsolescence

: the process of becoming obsolete or the condition of being nearly obsolete the gradual obsolescence of machinery reduced to obsolescence the planned obsolescence of automobiles

Examples of obsolescence in a Sentence

the obsolescence of the old technology Once a useful tool, slide rules have fallen into obsolescence.

Recent Examples on the Web

Eventually, twin beds’ popularity among American adults more or less faded into obsolescence, Hinds writes; today, queens are the most popular mattress size purchased, according to Consumer Reports. Alia Wong, The Atlantic, "The Ballad of the Twin XL Mattress," 31 Aug. 2019 Davis was facing obsolescence in the Woodstock era but mounted a ferocious comeback by leaning into the new sounds, delivering the angry, funky Bitches Brew in 1970. Kyle Smith, National Review, "The Angry Genius of Miles Davis," 21 Aug. 2019 Within a year, she was ousted, and the college limped toward obsolescence, buried under debt. Danny Hakim, New York Times, "Jane Sanders and the Messy Demise of a Vermont College," 21 June 2019 Department officials also looked for new solutions to the problem of obsolescence — the number of public housing units that need to be updated every year in order to remain livable. Los Angeles Times, "As homelessness crisis grows, the Trump administration has made few new efforts," 26 July 2019 What followed was a cool preview of the future obsolescence of people who drive. Kevin Spear, orlandosentinel.com, "Autonomous cars: The future is coming — slowly," 18 July 2019 Then, the post-war suburbia boom and planned obsolescence further encouraged the mass production of cheap products that needed to be bought again and again. Teresa L. Carey, Smithsonian, "How Women Are Leading the Charge to Recycle Whole Houses," 25 July 2019 The Manson murders seem like an odd, even impossible entry point for an artist in 2019 to craft a personal and self-reflective film about aging and the inevitability of creative obsolescence. Barbara Vandenburgh, azcentral, "Review: Quentin Tarantino gets personal in bittersweet ‘Once Upon a Time ... in Hollywood’," 24 July 2019 Planned obsolescence — where companies intentionally make their products less durable to encourage replacement — is another area of concern. Tik Root, Vox, "Apple effectively has a monopoly on fixing your iPhone. There’s now a fight to change that.," 3 July 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'obsolescence.' 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 obsolescence

circa 1832, in the meaning defined above

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Statistics for obsolescence

Last Updated

11 Sep 2019

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Time Traveler for obsolescence

The first known use of obsolescence was circa 1832

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More Definitions for obsolescence



English Language Learners Definition of obsolescence

: the condition of no longer being used or useful : the condition of being obsolete


ob·​so·​les·​cence | \ ˌäb-sə-ˈles-ᵊns How to pronounce obsolescence (audio) \

Legal Definition of obsolescence

: a loss in the utility or value of property that results over time from intrinsic limitations (as outmoded facilities) or external circumstances

Note: Obsolescence is usually distinguished from depreciation and physical deterioration.

economic obsolescence
: obsolescence that results from external factors (as location) that render a property obsolete, no longer competitive, unattractive to purchasers or investors, or of decreasing usefulness claimed that the appraisal failed to account for economic obsolescence resulting from an adjacent waste facility
functional obsolescence \ ˈfəŋk-​shə-​nəl-​ \
: obsolescence deriving from a lack of adequate or appropriate equipment, space, or design

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Comments on obsolescence

What made you want to look up obsolescence? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


one from the Upper Peninsula of Michigan

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