Definition of obtain
: to gain or attain usually by planned action or effort The information was difficult to obtain. We obtained a copy of the original letter.
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
obtainabilityplay \əb-ˌtā-nə-ˈbi-lə-tē, äb-\ noun
obtainableplay \əb-ˈtā-nə-bəl, äb-\ adjective
obtainmentplay \əb-ˈtān-mənt, äb-\ noun
obtain was our Word of the Day on 06/09/2015. Hear the podcast!
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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.
Recent Examples of obtain from the Web
The information for this story is based on records of the panel's meetings and more detailed investigations of some deaths obtained under the state open records law by the Courier-Journal from the Cabinet for Health and Family Services.
The Altmans’ lawyers opposed the subpoena on technical grounds but also argued that the Altmans’ testimony was not material to the case and that at least some of the information sought by the prosecution could easily be obtained elsewhere.
Forbes reports that the girls were rejected from obtaining one-week travel visas to attend the FIRST Global Challenge, an international robotics competition happening in Washington DC.
Lee’s Summit fireworks in short Fireworks are allowed July 2 through 4 with permits obtained from City Hall or at fireworks stands within the city.
According to the complaint and his online biography, Snelling obtained a doctoral degree in geology from the University of Sydney in 1982 and began his career by studying the Koongarra uranium deposit in Australia's Northern Territory.
But how exactly does St. Clair obtain these rare gems?
Both players' gunshot wounds are noncritical, and detectives are still working to identify and arrest the suspects, according a police statement obtained by the Associated Press.
Both lower courts had frozen the order altogether—meaning the government has had to allow visitors and immigrants from the six countries, and Syrian refugees, to apply for and obtain visas as if the order had never been issued.
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.
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).
OBTAIN Defined for English Language Learners
Definition of obtain for English Language Learners
: to gain or get (something) usually by effort
: to continue to be accepted or in use
OBTAIN Defined for Kids
Definition of obtain for Students
: to gain or get hold of with effort She was able to obtain a ticket to the show. We obtained permission to enter.
Word Root of obtain
The Latin words tenēre, meaning “to hold,” gives us the roots ten and tain. Words from the Latin tenēre have something to do with holding. Something tenacious holds on and is not easily gotten rid of. To contain is to hold things together inside. To obtain is to get hold of. To retain is to continue to hold.
Seen and Heard
What made you want to look up obtain? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).