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

None of this is to say that segregation is necessarily an insuperable obstacle to educational excellence. Matthew Yglesias, Vox, "Democratic candidates’ school integration plans, explained," 3 July 2019 Age, instead of being an obstacle to success, is now one of their strengths. Ephrat Livni, Quartz, "Humans don’t actually want to be immortal, we just want to be forever young," 27 June 2019 And witnesses also told detectives that the defendant had expressed the sentiment that her toddler son … was an obstacle to her relationship with her boyfriend. Harriet Sokmensuer, PEOPLE.com, "Mom Accused of Murdering Toddler Son Because He Was Interfering With Extramarital Affair," 27 June 2019 The bots' steep cost may be an obstacle: Aibo retails for close to $2,900, and Lovot will set you back a not-so-lovely ‎299,800 yen (about $2,800 at the current exchange rate). Kate Baggaley, NBC News, "New companion robots can't do much but make us love them," 23 June 2019 But Hagerty might face even more of an obstacle as a member of 7A, District 3 for the next two seasons. J.c. Carnahan, orlandosentinel.com, "Baseball, softball FHSAA realignment creates new postseason challenges," 21 June 2019 Others take issue with the documentary’s apparent position that the FDA is an obstacle to innovative treatment. Michael Hiltzik, latimes.com, "Legit stem cell experts in uproar over inclusion in film funded by suspect clinics," 17 June 2019 Currently, a rider must pay $4.95 for the card and an additional $5 for a minimum initial balance, an amount that could be an obstacle to a poor rider. Christian Hetrick, https://www.inquirer.com, "These government offices in Philly won’t take cash, disregarding the city’s cashless ban," 6 June 2019 No matter how great Durant is, that's quite an obstacle for a rusty player. Jerry Brewer, courant.com, "The Warriors, accustomed to dominance, are now battling uncertainty," 6 June 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

7 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

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