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ob·​so·​lete ˌäb-sə-ˈlēt How to pronounce obsolete (audio)
: no longer in use or no longer useful
an obsolete word
: of a kind or style no longer current : old-fashioned
an obsolete technology
farming methods that are now obsolete
of a plant or animal part : indistinct or imperfect as compared with a corresponding part in related organisms : vestigial
obsoletely adverb
obsoleteness noun


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obsoleted; obsoleting

transitive verb

: to make (something) old-fashioned or no longer useful : make obsolete
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 I was told my old printer is obsolete and I can't get replacement parts.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
Recent Examples on the Web
Artificial intelligence will make some jobs obsolete but others more efficient and productive. Jennifer Van Grove, San Diego Union-Tribune, 7 June 2024 Absent something soon, Apple’s lineup of devices and services risks becoming obsolete. Byverne Kopytoff, Fortune, 7 June 2024
Additionally, Russian jammers obsoleted much of the Ukrainian drone fleet. Vikram Mittal, Forbes, 16 Feb. 2024 By obsoleting customer-service hell, for instance—replacing 40-minute hold times and well-meaning but sometimes confused agents with bots who answer in milliseconds and solve problems in moments, leveraging their absolute knowledge of every quirk and hidden feature of the most intricate products. Rob Reid, Ars Technica, 24 Feb. 2023 See all Example Sentences for obsolete 

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'obsolete.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Adjective and Verb

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

First Known Use


1579, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


1640, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of obsolete was in 1579

Dictionary Entries Near obsolete

Cite this Entry

“Obsolete.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/obsolete. Accessed 18 Jun. 2024.

Kids Definition


: no longer in use
an obsolete word
: of a kind or style no longer current : outmoded
obsolete machinery
obsoletely adverb
obsoleteness noun

Medical Definition


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

More from Merriam-Webster on obsolete

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