obtain

verb
ob·​tain | \ əb-ˈtān , 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 archaic : succeed
2 : 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

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Other Words from obtain

obtainability \ əb-​ˌtā-​nə-​ˈbi-​lə-​tē , äb-​ \ noun
obtainable \ əb-​ˈtā-​nə-​bəl , äb-​ \ adjective
obtainer noun
obtainment \ əb-​ˈtān-​mənt , 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

After obtaining the new American Express card, Read then used it for several weeks at retail stores in Los Angeles like Nordstrom and Saks Fifth Avenue. Ale Russian, PEOPLE.com, "Demi Moore's Credit Card Was Stolen by Man Accused of Spending Over $169,000 at Retail Stores," 11 July 2018 Mueller has reportedly obtained evidence that Cohen actually did visit Prague during the 2016 campaign, contrary to his denials. Jonathan Chait, Daily Intelligencer, "Will Trump Be Meeting With His Counterpart — Or His Handler?," 8 July 2018 In a seven-count indictment obtained Thursday by special counsel Robert Mueller, Mr. Stone was also charged with obstructing the congressional inquiry and trying to persuade a witness to lie to a House committee. Shelby Holliday, WSJ, "Trump Adviser Roger Stone Charged as Part of Mueller Investigation," 25 Jan. 2019 Flex is to package delivery what Uber is to taxis: A fleet of contractors who obtain work through a massive company but are not technically considered employees of said company. Gaby Del Valle, Vox, "Amazon is cutting costs with its own delivery service — but its drivers don’t receive benefits," 26 Dec. 2018 This decree could have been violated following the Cambridge Analytica scandal earlier this year or subsequent breaches, like the October incident in which hackers obtained access to over 50 million accounts. Makena Kelly, The Verge, "The FTC’s top consumer protection official can’t go after Facebook — or 100 other companies," 6 Dec. 2018 That's precisely the scenario one man found himself in after obtaining a unit auctioned off by A&E's Storage Wars star Dan Dotson. Taysha Murtaugh, Country Living, "'Storage Wars' Star Dan Dotson Sold a $500 Unit With $7.5 Million Accidentally Hidden Inside," 26 Nov. 2018 Maxwell adds that Everytown has helped pass 28 laws in the past five years preventing domestic abusers from obtaining guns, and instituted background checks in 20 states that previously had loopholes. Judith Ohikuare, Seventeen, "Activism Fatigue Is Real And Here's How You Can Fight Against It," 17 Oct. 2018 According to Hu Jia, the brother should not hold out hope of obtaining his own one-way air ticket. The Economist, "China frees the widow of a Nobel peace-prize winner," 11 July 2018

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

14 Feb 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 \
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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