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

Andrew Luck hasn't enjoyed a fully healthy offseason since 2015, but the strained calf that sidelined the 2018 comeback player of the year looks like a relatively small obstacle given what the Colts QB has faced in past years. 27. Michael Middlehurst-schwartz, USA TODAY, "50 things to know about NFL teams' training camps in 2019," 15 July 2019 In music, the stranglehold of the canon, and its continual misuse as a benchmark, is a tremendous obstacle to many female musicians and musicians of color. Washington Post, "Women give voice to a male canon. It happens to be ancient Greek.," 12 July 2019 The women agreed that self-doubt is a huge obstacle for women trying to secure a seat at the table. Halley Bondy, NBC News, "Rachel Hollis: 'There's every kind of woman and no right way to be'," 12 July 2019 When the Evenwel case was argued, opponents of counting only eligible voters said there was a significant practical obstacle: There was no reliable data on which to base such districts. Michael Crowley, New York Times, "Trump Says He Will Seek Citizenship Information From Existing Federal Records, Not the Census," 11 July 2019 But these same safeguards are a huge obstacle for scientists trying to study the brain’s decline—specifically dementia. Katherine Ellen Foley, Quartz, "Scientists may have found a better way to spot early signs of dementia: our eyes," 11 July 2019 Left back Crystal Dunn is a formidable obstacle, and if shoring up on the outside is needed, Horan or Mewis can provide support. Frank Dell’apa, BostonGlobe.com, "US experience will count in Women’s World Cup final," 6 July 2019 But there is a prior obstacle to striking any deal, however daring or flawed. The Economist, "Who would dare to speak for Kim Jong Un and Donald Trump?," 4 July 2019 But this year’s excellent summer weather has put a few more obstacles between racers and a successful finish in the iconic mountain run. Author: Kat Sorensen, Anchorage Daily News, "Mount Marathon is always arduous, but smoke, dust and heat could add to this year’s challenge," 2 July 2019

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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Statistics for obstacle

Last Updated

21 Jul 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for obstacle

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

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More Definitions for obstacle



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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More from Merriam-Webster on obstacle

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with obstacle

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for obstacle

Spanish Central: Translation of obstacle

Nglish: Translation of obstacle for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of obstacle for Arabic Speakers

Comments on obstacle

What made you want to look up obstacle? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


an act or instance of editing or removing

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