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

With the possibility of a peace deal on the horizon, some U.S. officials and experts in recent months have argued that presidential elections in Afghanistan are a distraction, even an obstacle, to the real prize: a peace deal to end the 17-year war. Ehsanullah Amiri, WSJ, "Afghan Official Raises Prospect of Postponing April Presidential Vote," 26 Dec. 2018 Some have questioned whether the store’s open-floor designs, with few obstacles, enable such robberies. Bradford Betz, Fox News, "Apple Store robberies continue in Bay Area, with 9 stores hit this month," 27 Sep. 2018 Late 2017 and early 2018 brought one obstacle after another: damage from Hurricane Irma, allegations of animal abuse, the death of one of its most beloved animals. Chabeli Herrera, miamiherald, "Monkey Jungle has reopened. Here is what has happened since the animal-abuse allegations.," 12 July 2018 Make note of both the advantages and obstacles, being sensitive to your employer’s needs as well as your own. Johnny C. Taylor Jr., USA TODAY, "Ask HR: My company wants a health risk assessment. What will it be used for?," 10 July 2018 The expansion of technology in our economy is an opportunity, not an obstacle, to employing Californians. Amy Chance, sacbee, "'Not all machines are evil,' and other thoughts on California's changing economy," 2 July 2018 In addition to potential fears from investors, MoviePass faces another obstacle, however: competition from AMC. Aric Jenkins, Fortune, "MoviePass Plans to Raise $1.2 Billion Despite Questions About Sustainability," 2 July 2018 These efforts face serious obstacles: Donald Trump has appointed members to the National Labor Relations Board who have already moved rules governing union activity in an anti-labor direction. Livia Gershon, Longreads, "Nurses, Unite!," 28 June 2018 Any peace plan would face major obstacles, including the increasingly dire humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip, internal Palestinian divisions, and recent cross-border violence between Gaza's Hamas rulers and Israel. Ilan Ben Zion, chicagotribune.com, "Kushner rips Abbas, says Mideast peace plan due 'soon'," 24 June 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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Statistics for obstacle

Last Updated

6 Jan 2019

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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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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

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someone who never drinks alcohol

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