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 During the day, windows reflect trees and sky, creating an invisible obstacle. Jeffery Jones, National Geographic, "Birds are crashing into NYC buildings. Record numbers are being rescued.," 8 Oct. 2020 The lack of communication represents an unwelcome obstacle for the D.C. government, which has worked to contain the spread of the virus through mandatory mask requirements and limits on the size of gatherings. NBC news, "Trump returns to White House after leaving hospital, sheds mask for photo opportunity," 6 Oct. 2020 In July, the Africa Union, which represents dozens of countries, urged its members to work with the WHO to obtain a vaccine, but not let pharmaceutical patents remain an obstacle. Ed Silverman, STAT, "South Africa and India urge WTO to waive IP rights, widen access to Covid-19 drugs and vaccines," 3 Oct. 2020 Wildfires add another obstacle/dilemma Wildfires will also complicate leaf peeping in Colorado and California this year. Allison Chinchar, CNN, "Fall foliage faltering under 'extreme drought' conditions," 3 Oct. 2020 But little is normal this school year, so Young and assistant coach Jesse Stringer cooked up an obstacle-course relay race, inspired by the old Bartlett Relays. Beth Bragg, Anchorage Daily News, "Making the high school cross-country season happen in Southeast Alaska takes creativity and planning," 2 Oct. 2020 But a debater who is determined to be disruptive probably can overcome an obstacle as subtle as a dead microphone. Editorial Board Star Tribune, Star Tribune, "Rules won't fix what's wrong with debates," 1 Oct. 2020 Due to the longer range and higher obstacle penetration of 2.4GHz, apartment dwellers frequently live in a thick 2.4GHz soup, with little or no airtime available on any channel. Jim Salter, Ars Technica, "Comcast adds new tri-band xFi pods to home Wi-Fi lineup," 1 Oct. 2020 Regardless of their confidence to overcome any obstacle — the Nuggets are already the first team to overcome two 3-1 series deficits in the same postseason — Denver became frustrated with how this latest challenge came to be. Mark Medina, USA TODAY, "Denver Nuggets' frustrations are plentiful after falling down 3-1 in another playoff series," 25 Sep. 2020

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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Time Traveler for obstacle

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for obstacle

Last Updated

16 Oct 2020

Cite this Entry

“Obstacle.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/obstacle. Accessed 26 Oct. 2020.

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More Definitions for obstacle


How to pronounce obstacle (audio)

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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