adjective ob·so·lete \ ˌäb-sə-ˈlēt , ˈäb-sə-ˌlēt \
Updated on: 13 Apr 2018

Definition of obsolete

1 a : 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b : of a kind or style no longer current : old-fashioned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





Examples of obsolete in a Sentence

  1. 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 ChungNewsweek23 Sept. 2002
  2. 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 SmithWhite Teeth2000
  3. 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 KozolVoices From the Future1993
  4. The system was made obsolete by their invention.

  5. I was told my old printer is obsolete and I can't get replacement parts.

Recent Examples of obsolete from the Web

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.

Origin and Etymology of obsolete

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

Synonym Discussion of 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



verb ob·so·lete \ ˌäb-sə-ˈlēt , ˈäb-sə-ˌlēt \

Definition of obsolete

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

Examples of obsolete in a Sentence

  1. While many … do describe various small, quick-loading 35mm film cartridges, modern technology has obsoleted these. —Herbert KepplerPopular PhotographyNovember 1993
  2. … older cpu's whose speed and efficiency never were fully tapped before they were effectively obsoleted by their manufacturers … —Edith MyersDatamationNovember 1977
  3. For radio itself deliberately obsoletes today what it built yesterday. —David SarnoffTelevision1936

Origin and Etymology of obsolete

OBSOLETE Defined for English Language Learners


Definition of obsolete for English Language Learners

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

  • : no longer used by anyone

OBSOLETE Defined for Kids


adjective ob·so·lete \ ˌäb-sə-ˈlēt \

Definition of obsolete for Students

: no longer in use : out-of-date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

Medical Dictionary


adjective ob·so·lete \ ˌäb-sə-ˈlēt, ˈäb-sə-ˌ \

medical Definition of obsolete

: no longer active or distinct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

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investment of mental or emotional energy

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