ob·​so·​lete | \ ˌäb-sə-ˈlēt How to pronounce obsolete (audio) , ˈäb-sə-ˌlēt \

Definition of obsolete

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1a : no longer in use or no longer useful an obsolete word
b : of a kind or style no longer current : old-fashioned an obsolete technology farming methods that are now obsolete
2 of a plant or animal part : indistinct or imperfect as compared with a corresponding part in related organisms : vestigial


ob·​so·​lete | \ ˌäb-sə-ˈlēt How to pronounce obsolete (audio) , ˈäb-sə-ˌlēt \
obsoleted; obsoleting

Definition of obsolete (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

: to make (something) old-fashioned or no longer useful : make obsolete

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Other Words from obsolete


obsoletely adverb
obsoleteness noun

Choose the Right Synonym for obsolete


old, ancient, venerable, antique, antiquated, archaic, obsolete mean having come into existence or use in the more or less distant past. old may apply to either actual or merely relative length of existence. old houses an old sweater of mine ancient applies to occurrence, existence, or use in or survival from the distant past. ancient accounts of dragons venerable stresses the impressiveness and dignity of great age. the family's venerable patriarch antique applies to what has come down from a former or ancient time. collected antique Chippendale furniture antiquated implies being discredited or outmoded or otherwise inappropriate to the present time. antiquated teaching methods archaic implies having the character or characteristics of a much earlier time. the play used archaic language to convey a sense of period obsolete may apply to something regarded as no longer acceptable or useful even though it is still in existence. a computer that makes earlier models obsolete

Examples of obsolete in a Sentence

Adjective It may not be welcome news in her home state of Pennsylvania, but chemist Cynthia Kuper could help make steel obsolete. Experimenting with carbon nanotubes, structures a few atoms wide but 100 times stronger and much lighter than steel, Kuper calls her work an "amusement park discovery." — Joanna Chung, Newsweek, 23 Sept. 2002 He exercised a right so rare, at this the fag-end of the century, as to be practically obsolete. The most fundamental right of all. The right to be the good guy. — Zadie Smith, White Teeth, 2000 I never had parents, really. My mom was gone, my dad was at work or with his girlfriends, we had baby-sitters. My parents were obsolete. — Jonathan Kozol, Voices From the Future, 1993 The system was made obsolete by their invention. I was told my old printer is obsolete and I can't get replacement parts. Verb While many … do describe various small, quick-loading 35mm film cartridges, modern technology has obsoleted these. — Herbert Keppler, Popular Photography, November 1993 … older cpu's whose speed and efficiency never were fully tapped before they were effectively obsoleted by their manufacturers … — Edith Myers, Datamation, November 1977 For radio itself deliberately obsoletes today what it built yesterday. — David Sarnoff, Television, 1936
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Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective By this stage, calendars practically are obsolete at 601 Biscayne Boulevard. Ira Winderman, sun-sentinel.com, "Heat move immediately from NBA Finals in a bubble to NBA Draft like no other," 14 Oct. 2020 Some analysts believe the holiday is slowly becoming obsolete with the rise of online shopping and consumer preferences for deals over the course of the holiday season rather than a concentration of discounts on a single day. NBC News, "As Prime Day kicks off and holiday deals start early, is Black Friday dead?," 13 Oct. 2020 The debate over whether public libraries are on their way to becoming obsolete has heated up in recent years. Brigit Katz, Smithsonian Magazine, "Americans Went to the Library More Often Than the Movies in 2019," 30 Jan. 2020 More recently, horror films have been making the Sacrificial Negro obsolete. John Blake, CNN, "Black writers and filmmakers are bringing new scares to the horror genre," 4 Oct. 2020 Cash faded, electronic banking expanded, and travelers’ checks became obsolete. Elisabeth Eaves, Wired, "The Pandemic Closed Borders—and Stirred a Longing for Home," 1 Oct. 2020 Businesses and households also are becoming more energy efficient, a durable trend that makes power plants built for another era increasingly obsolete. Michael Hawthorne, chicagotribune.com, "Texas company to close all of its Illinois coal-fired power plants, another sign the global transition to clean energy is accelerating," 30 Sep. 2020 With a vinyl revival, record players no longer seem obsolete, although today's hipsters won't find the model that features a bird's beak needle and tortoise turntable. Bill Keveney, USA TODAY, "Happy Yabba Dabba Doo! 6 fun things about 'The Flintstones' on its 60th anniversary," 30 Sep. 2020 Oregon’s plans to replace the obsolete computer technology that runs its unemployment benefits system has suffered another setback, with a vendor who lost out on the selection process challenging the state’s choice. Mike Rogoway | The Oregonian/oregonlive, oregonlive, "Vendor contests Oregon’s choice for employment department tech upgrade, further delaying project," 28 Sep. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Why would SpaceX want to obsolete its own, dominant products? Eric Berger, Ars Technica, "Block 5 rocket launch marks the end of the beginning for SpaceX," 3 May 2018

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


1579, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


1640, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for obsolete

Adjective and Verb

Latin obsoletus, from past participle of obsolescere to grow old, become disused, perhaps from ob- toward + solēre to be accustomed

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Time Traveler for obsolete

Time Traveler

The first known use of obsolete was in 1579

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Statistics for obsolete

Last Updated

26 Oct 2020

Cite this Entry

“Obsolete.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/obsolete. Accessed 30 Oct. 2020.

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More Definitions for obsolete


How to pronounce obsolete (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of obsolete

: no longer used because something newer exists : replaced by something newer
: no longer used by anyone


ob·​so·​lete | \ ˌäb-sə-ˈlēt How to pronounce obsolete (audio) \

Kids Definition of obsolete

: no longer in use : out-of-date The machinery is now obsolete.


ob·​so·​lete | \ ˌäb-sə-ˈlēt, ˈäb-sə-ˌ How to pronounce obsolete (audio) \

Medical Definition of obsolete

: no longer active or distinct obsolete cases of infection obsolete pulmonary lesions

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