ob·​struct əb-ˈstrəkt How to pronounce obstruct (audio)
obstructed; obstructing; obstructs

transitive verb

: to block or close up by an obstacle
A piece of food obstructed his airway.
The road was obstructed by a fallen tree.
: to hinder from passage, action, or operation : impede
Constant interruptions obstruct our progress.
was charged with obstructing justice by lying to investigators
: to cut off from sight
A wall obstructs the view.
obstructive adjective or noun
obstructiveness noun
obstructor noun
Choose the Right Synonym for obstruct

hinder, impede, obstruct, block mean to interfere with the activity or progress of.

hinder stresses causing harmful or annoying delay or interference with progress.

rain hindered the climb

impede implies making forward progress difficult by clogging, hampering, or fettering.

tight clothing that impedes movement

obstruct implies interfering with something in motion or in progress by the sometimes intentional placing of obstacles in the way.

the view was obstructed by billboards

block implies complete obstruction to passage or progress.

a landslide blocked the road

Examples of obstruct in a Sentence

A large tree obstructed the road. A piece of food obstructed his airway and caused him to stop breathing. She was charged with obstructing police. She was charged with obstructing justice by lying to investigators.
Recent Examples on the Web The first trial When the former Miami Beach executive’s trial ended in 2019, Esformes was found guilty of 20 of 26 counts, including paying bribes, receiving kickbacks, committing money laundering and obstructing justice. Jay Weaver, Miami Herald, 22 Feb. 2024 He has not been charged with resisting or obstructing officers. Nate Gartrell, The Mercury News, 21 Feb. 2024 Councilmember Kevin de León introduced a motion this week to allocate the funds to secure the property and restore the public right of way, which is obstructed by plastic barriers, scaffolding and debris. Summer Lin, Los Angeles Times, 16 Feb. 2024 Subscribe to The Trump Trials, our weekly email newsletter on Donald Trump's four criminal cases There is still a chance the New York trial could end up taking a back seat to a separate federal case against Trump for allegedly conspiring to obstruct the results of the 2020 election. Shayna Jacobs, Washington Post, 15 Feb. 2024 Access to the hospital remains obstructed – there is no safe corridor for those in need. John Bacon, USA TODAY, 13 Feb. 2024 They have all been charged with assault on a police officer, gang assault, obstructing governmental administration and disorderly conduct. Jonathan Dienst, NBC News, 7 Feb. 2024 Prosecutors have charged Trump with obstructing the government’s efforts to reclaim classified material improperly removed from the White House after his term ended in early 2021. TIME, 7 Feb. 2024 On Monday, the videos caught the attention of Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, who felt the need to remind these reckless drivers that obstructing their vision with the Apple Vision Pro in a car that is not autonomous is a bad idea. Jody Serrano / Gizmodo, Quartz, 6 Feb. 2024 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'obstruct.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Latin obstructus, past participle of obstruere, from ob- in the way + struere to build, heap up — more at ob-, strew

First Known Use

1590, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of obstruct was in 1590

Dictionary Entries Near obstruct

Cite this Entry

“Obstruct.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/obstruct. Accessed 3 Mar. 2024.

Kids Definition


ob·​struct əb-ˈstrəkt How to pronounce obstruct (audio)
: to close up by an obstacle
a fallen tree obstructed the roadway
: to be or get in the way of : hinder
lying to the police obstructs justice

Medical Definition


transitive verb
ob·​struct əb-ˈstrəkt, äb- How to pronounce obstruct (audio)
: to block or close up by an obstacle
veins obstructed by clots

More from Merriam-Webster on obstruct

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