Definition of obtain
- The information was difficult to obtain.
- We obtained a copy of the original letter.
- Those ideas no longer obtain for our generation.
- a greater degree of free expression than usually obtains in film production
- —Roger Manvell
Theme music by Joshua Stamper ©2006 New Jerusalem Music/ASCAP
The information may be difficult to obtain.
We obtained a copy of the original letter.
These ideas no longer obtain for our generation.
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.
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).
: to gain or get (something) usually by effort
: to continue to be accepted or in use
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