ob·so·les·cence | \ˌäb-sə-ˈle-sᵊn(t)s \

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

As if succumbing to a technological Stockholm syndrome, even nonfuturists have begun apologizing for the sin of humanity, accepting the superiority of their new robotic overlords, planning their own obsolescence. Abigail Shrier, WSJ, "Is It ‘Human Error’ When a Robot Fouls Up?," 15 June 2018 The sheriff’s department has come forward with several proposals for cameras, McClure said, but obsolescence and storage were at issue. Amy Lavalley, Post-Tribune, "Body, vehicle cameras to cost $468k for Porter County police," 19 June 2018 Those with means largely believe that their wealth and education privilege will insulate them from workplace obsolescence. miamiherald, "Influencers set their priorities for Florida, Floridians," 18 June 2018 In 1965 celebrated auto writer Ken Purdy broke many sports-car fans’ hearts by opining that automatic transmissions were surpassing stick shifts and would soon push them into obsolescence. Jonathan Welsh, WSJ, "Yes, Cars Still Come With Stick—Here Are a Few New Favorites," 24 May 2018 Sufficiency ratings tend to be based on some of the same factors as designations of structural deficiency and functional obsolescence. Erik Sofge, Popular Mechanics, "Just How Fragile Are America's Bridges?," 28 May 2013 The study indicated that Commerce Park's problems included building obsolescence, a need for coordinated parking, and multiple ownership of long and narrow properties, which was not conducive to redevelopment for new uses. Jeff Piorkowski/special To Cleveland.com, cleveland.com, "Beachwood adds new 'tool' to help attract, retain business; new law director hired," 3 Apr. 2018 Where Trump may be unique, though, is on another metric: in hastening the obsolescence of the State of the Union itself. Andrew Rudalevige, Washington Post, "Could Trump be the president who finishes off the State of the Union address?," 31 Jan. 2018 Its consumers associated obsolescence with authenticity, reviving bygone trades like butchering, woodworking and, yes, hand-painting. New York Times, "Hipster Culture and Instagram Are Responsible for a Good Thing," 29 Jan. 2018

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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Phrases Related to obsolescence

built-in/planned obsolescence

Statistics for obsolescence

Last Updated

11 Sep 2018

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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 \

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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More from Merriam-Webster on obsolescence

Spanish Central: Translation of obsolescence

Nglish: Translation of obsolescence for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of obsolescence for Arabic Speakers

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