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

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.
Recent Examples on the Web The obstacle courses, though, are not standardized from competition to competition. al, 4 May 2022 The Giant' and 'airSPACE' themed inflatable arenas and obstacle courses, and a three-hour ticket will get you access to each attraction. Rae Johnson, The Courier-Journal, 21 Apr. 2022 The trampoline park features jump zones, obstacle courses, a go-kart track, dodgeball courts and climbing ropes and walls. Joshua Gunter, cleveland, 2 Apr. 2022 Results of a Forrester study identified cooperation across an organization as the top obstacle to improving customer experience (CX). Yaron Morgenstern, Forbes, 13 Apr. 2022 The fight for Marib has served as a major obstacle to international efforts to resolve the seven-year war. Washington Post, 18 Jan. 2022 The Palestinians seek the West Bank as part of their future state and view the settlements as a major obstacle to resolving the conflict. Fox News, 26 Sep. 2021 Her worst obstacle is the skepticism of her new neighbors, who fear she’s running a con game, but this allows Belorusets one of her best wisecracks. Washington Post, 18 Mar. 2022 Nine days after knocking off Greater Cincinnati top-seed Elder for the second time this season, Turpin's Spartans took the floor against their next obstacle, the Wayne Warriors. Scott Springer, The Enquirer, 6 Mar. 2022 See More

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.

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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Dictionary Entries Near obstacle



obstacle course

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Last Updated

14 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Obstacle.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/obstacle. Accessed 22 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for obstacle


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

Kids Definition of obstacle

: something that stands in the way or opposes : hindrance

More from Merriam-Webster on obstacle

Nglish: Translation of obstacle for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of obstacle for Arabic Speakers


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