ob·sta·cle | \ˈäb-sti-kəl, -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

Our skies are about to fill up with drones, delivery drones in particular, that will have to avoid not just one another, but the many obstacles of the big city. Matt Simon, WIRED, "Watch Out, Pro Racers: These Drones Just Learned to Fly Solo," 27 June 2018 As the competition moves along, the obstacles change and the course gets longer. Shawn R. Beals, Courant Community, "Wesleyan Student Shines On American Ninja Warrior," 27 June 2018 The court ruled that the benefits of imposing the 2013 requirements did not justify the obstacles to access. Alejandra Matos, San Antonio Express-News, "Abortion providers sue Texas to undue decades-old laws," 14 June 2018 If a vehicle gets into trouble, the human operator can plot out suggested a path to help the self-driving car navigate around the obstacle or through a road construction area. Kirsten Korosec, Fortune, "Why Self-Driving Car Companies Are Eyeing This Remote Driving Startup," 12 June 2018 Two former Courier Journal reporters and sculptor Ed Hamilton reflect on the social obstacles Muhammad Ali faced in 1968. Joseph Gerth, The Courier-Journal, "What is Trump thinking? Muhammad Ali doesn't need a stinkin' pardon," 8 June 2018 The idea was to overcome the country’s biggest obstacle in nurturing technical prowess, the internal bureaucracy of English soccer’s 154-year-old governing body. Jonathan Clegg, WSJ, "How England Rewired Its Soccer DNA," 10 July 2018 But homebuilders and analysts see a few big obstacles in the way of the Phoenix’s homebuilding recovery: rising labor, land and construction material costs. Catherine Reagor, azcentral, "Metro Phoenix homebuilding hits decade high," 8 July 2018 Loeb faces obstacles in his attempt to spur Nestle to change, according to James Edwardes Jones, an analyst at RBC Capital Markets. Scott Deveau, BostonGlobe.com, "Loeb presses Nestle to fix strategy, sell L’Oreal stake," 2 July 2018

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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Phrases Related to obstacle

obstacle race

Statistics for obstacle

Last Updated

13 Oct 2018

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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 \

Kids Definition of obstacle

: something that stands in the way or opposes : hindrance

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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).


not any or not one

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