obtain

verb
ob·​tain | \ əb-ˈtān How to pronounce obtain (audio) , äb-\
obtained; obtaining; obtains

Definition of obtain

transitive verb

: to gain or attain usually by planned action or effort The information was difficult to obtain. We obtained a copy of the original letter.

intransitive verb

1 : to be generally recognized or established : prevail Those ideas no longer obtain for our generation. a greater degree of free expression than usually obtains in film production— Roger Manvell
2 archaic : succeed

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Other Words from obtain

obtainability \ əb-​ˌtā-​nə-​ˈbi-​lə-​tē How to pronounce obtainability (audio) , äb-​ \ noun
obtainable \ əb-​ˈtā-​nə-​bəl How to pronounce obtainable (audio) , äb-​ \ adjective
obtainer noun
obtainment \ əb-​ˈtān-​mənt How to pronounce obtainment (audio) , äb-​ \ noun

Did You Know?

Obtain, which was adopted into English in the 15th century, comes to us via Anglo-French from the Latin obtinēre, meaning "to take hold of." "Obtinēre" was itself formed by combination of ob-, meaning "in the way," and the verb tenēre, meaning "to hold." If you have the kind of memory that holds on to etymological sources, you will likely remember that we featured another descendent of "tenere" just days ago. For those whose memories have a less tenacious grip, we'll remind you now that the featured word was "untenable" (and that "tenacious" was also mentioned as a relative).

Examples of obtain in a Sentence

The information may be difficult to obtain. We obtained a copy of the original letter. These ideas no longer obtain for our generation.
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Recent Examples on the Web

The color of the dress, which is a shade of blush, is obtained from different layers of tulle and organza that make the body of the gown. Leena Kim, Town & Country, "Designer Luisa Beccaria Reveals What It Was Really Like to Make Lady Gabriella Windsor's Wedding Dress," 18 May 2019 After obtaining a warrant, police entered the Blanchards’ house and found Dee Dee’s body. Emma Dibdin, Harper's BAZAAR, "A Complete Timeline of Dee Dee Blanchard's Murder and Gypsy Blanchard's Trial," 3 Apr. 2019 Marietta detectives are investigating the incident and have obtained a search warrant for the vehicle. Jeff Martin, The Seattle Times, "Police standoff on an Atlanta-area freeway halts traffic," 29 Mar. 2019 After a 911 call from a concerned neighbor, the police obtained a search warrant and found Dee Dee stabbed to death in the bedroom. Alexis Jones, Marie Claire, "How True Is 'The Act'? The Hulu Series' Backstory Is Chilling," 20 Mar. 2019 Gawker also obtained and published Epstein’s address book, which included politicians, actors, and celebrities. Jane Coaston, Vox, "Jeffrey Epstein, the convicted sex offender who is friends with Donald Trump and Bill Clinton, explained," 22 Feb. 2019 Law enforcement agencies are required to obtain a warrant to force tech companies to build backdoors into their services, but no further judicial oversight would be necessary to intercept telecommunications once a warrant has been issued. Casey Newton, The Verge, "Facebook’s role in the French protests has polarized observers," 11 Dec. 2018 Later, a BuzzFeed News investigation discovered that, from 2014 onward, the state obtained drugs from a compounding pharmacy in St. Louis, one that has been dogged by allegations of misconduct. Abdullah Shihipar, Teen Vogue, "Lethal Injection Drugs and the Death Penalty, Explained," 30 Oct. 2018 Guglielmi credited Foxx with changes that have improved the relationship between police and prosecutors and improved the chances of obtaining convictions, including teaching officers how to write better reports. Tammy Webber, The Seattle Times, "Smollett case tests relationship between police, prosecutors," 31 Mar. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'obtain.' 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 obtain

15th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense

History and Etymology for obtain

Middle English obteinen, from Anglo-French & Latin; Anglo-French obtenir, from Latin obtinēre to hold on to, possess, obtain, from ob- in the way + tenēre to hold — more at thin

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Dictionary Entries near obtain

obstruse

obstupefy

obt

obtain

obtainal

obtd

obtect

Statistics for obtain

Last Updated

23 May 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for obtain

The first known use of obtain was in the 15th century

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More Definitions for obtain

obtain

verb

English Language Learners Definition of obtain

somewhat formal : to gain or get (something) usually by effort
formal : to continue to be accepted or in use

obtain

verb
ob·​tain | \ əb-ˈtān How to pronounce obtain (audio) \
obtained; obtaining

Kids Definition of obtain

: to gain or get hold of with effort She was able to obtain a ticket to the show. We obtained permission to enter.

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More from Merriam-Webster on obtain

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for obtain

Spanish Central: Translation of obtain

Nglish: Translation of obtain for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of obtain for Arabic Speakers

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