ob·​sta·​cle | \ ˈäb-sti-kəl How to pronounce obstacle (audio) , -ˌsti- \

Definition of obstacle

: something that impedes progress or achievement Mosquitoes were a great obstacle to the building of the Panama Canal. … elders … often facing daily medical, social, and psychological obstacles.— Vicki Bloom and B. B. Green-Field

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Examples of obstacle in a Sentence

He overcame the obstacles of poverty and neglect. They must overcome a number of obstacles before the restaurant can be opened. Lack of experience is a major obstacle for her opponent. She swerved to avoid an obstacle in the road.
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Recent Examples on the Web For New York City workers, the commute is a big obstacle to returning to the office. Konrad Putzier, WSJ, "Social Distancing on Trains Could Mean Longer Commutes to Manhattan," 21 June 2020 This can be a major obstacle to overcoming back pain if your compromise doesn’t fully support your sleep position. Mandie Kelleher, Better Homes & Gardens, "The Best Mattresses for Back Pain to Help You Sleep Easy," 19 June 2020 These will trigger when there is an obstacle a player can vault, or when there are ammunition, bricks or bottles to pick up. Alaa Elassar, CNN, "A blind video gamer got emotional after seeing the The Last of Us Part II's extensive accessibility options for players with disabilities," 19 June 2020 For a fiesty 93-year-old Texan named Opal Lee, the coronavirus pandemic is just another obstacle on the long road to equality. Jericka Duncan, CBS News, "Meet Opal Lee, the 93-year-old Texan who has spent her life trying to make Juneteenth a holiday," 19 June 2020 And when there’s an overwhelming obstacle in the way, the shortest path between two points may not be a straight line. Lee Drutman, The New Republic, "How Democracy Dies at the Ballot Box," 18 June 2020 Neptune is an obstacle in which guests race across using their arms. Charles Infosino, Cincinnati.com, "So, what's Coney Island gonna be like with no rides?," 12 June 2020 For many residents of one of Africa’s largest informal urban settlements, coronavirus is yet another obstacle in a life of hardship. Rachel Jones, National Geographic, "In this sprawling city within a city, fighting coronavirus requires solidarity," 9 June 2020 An obvious obstacle for convalescent plasma therapy is supply. Adrianna Rodriguez, USA TODAY, "What is plasma therapy and how does it work to treat the coronavirus? Everything you need to know.," 8 June 2020

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

14th century, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for obstacle

Middle English, from Anglo-French, from Latin obstaculum, from obstare to stand in front of, from ob- in the way + stare to stand — more at ob-, stand

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Time Traveler for obstacle

Time Traveler

The first known use of obstacle was in the 14th century

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Statistics for obstacle

Last Updated

30 Jun 2020

Cite this Entry

“Obstacle.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/obstacle. Accessed 10 Jul. 2020.

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More Definitions for obstacle


How to pronounce obstacle (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of obstacle

: something that makes it difficult to do something
: an object that you have to go around or over : something that blocks your path


ob·​sta·​cle | \ ˈäb-stə-kəl How to pronounce obstacle (audio) \

Kids Definition of obstacle

: something that stands in the way or opposes : hindrance

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