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 Since Uber basically created the market space in 2009, a legion has followed operating from similar platforms, driving the traditional taxi business dangerously close to obsolescence. Viju Mathew, Robb Report, "This New Luxury Ridesharing Service Wants to Be Everything Uber Is Not," 13 Apr. 2021 In most fields, legacy is seen as a positive, but in IT, there is usually an implicit association with obsolescence. Bruno Mourao, Forbes, "Decomposing IT Legacy," 12 Apr. 2021 Every parent is aware of their own, inevitable obsolescence. Rumaan Alam, The New Republic, "Kazuo Ishiguro’s Deceptively Simple Story of AI," 12 Apr. 2021 All coal plants would have to shut down, and natural gas plants would be phased into obsolescence. The Editorial Board, WSJ, "Biden’s 10-Year Climate Plan," 22 Apr. 2021 The park does its best to accommodate the inevitable problem with technology: obsolescence. Mark Lamster, Dallas News, "With West End Square, Dallas gets a (very) smart park," 25 Mar. 2021 The Navy’s new priorities will likely lead to the cancellation of the Freedom class Littoral Combat Ship and force the Mk 41 launcher and Mk 48 torpedo, both well-regarded and long-lived Lockheed products, to fade into obsolescence. Craig Hooper, Forbes, "Lockheed Martin Shutters 2 Navy Plants, Heralding New Technology On The Waterfront," 18 Mar. 2021 Despite their differences, though, both brothers had staked their careers on telling stories in which cops were the good guys — a kind of narrative that, at the moment, seemed to be teetering on the edge of obsolescence. Rachel Monroe, Vulture, "The Criminal Minds of Jim and Tim," 15 Mar. 2021 The book’s cinematic final scene, which underscores Ishiguro’s theme of obsolescence in the face of rapidly advancing technology, may strike readers as desolate. Heller Mcalpin, The Christian Science Monitor, "‘Klara and the Sun’: Do androids dream of human emotions?," 1 Mar. 2021

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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Time Traveler for obsolescence

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The first known use of obsolescence was circa 1832

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Statistics for obsolescence

Last Updated

10 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Obsolescence.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/obsolescence. Accessed 18 May. 2021.

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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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