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

In April, privacy groups filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission saying that Facebook had turned on new face-matching services without obtaining appropriate permission of users. New York Times, "Microsoft Urges Congress to Regulate Use of Facial Recognition," 13 July 2018 Thomason faces charges of second-degree murder, attempted second-degree murder, leaving the scene of a fatal crash, and aggravated assault with a deadly weapon charges, according to court records obtained by PEOPLE. PEOPLE.com, "Dental Hygienist Allegedly Fatally Rammed Woman with Her Mercedes — and Said God Made Her Do It," 12 July 2018 School and government records obtained by The Associated Press and other media shortly after the shooting show Nikolas Cruz was diagnosed as developmentally delayed at age 3 and had disciplinary issues dating to middle school. Terry Spencer, BostonGlobe.com, "Official says Florida shooting suspect’s mom let him buy gun," 11 July 2018 School and government records obtained by The Associated Press and other media shortly after the shooting show Nikolas Cruz was diagnosed as developmentally delayed at age 3 and had disciplinary issues dating to middle school. Terry Spencer, The Seattle Times, "Official: Florida shooting suspect’s mom let him buy gun," 10 July 2018 School and government records obtained by The Associated Press and other media shortly after the shooting show Nikolas Cruz was diagnosed as developmentally delayed at age 3 and had disciplinary issues dating to middle school. NBC News, "Parkland shooting suspect's mother allowed him to purchase guns, investigating commission says," 10 July 2018 More than 6,000 children were even denied something as essential as daily recess, according to records obtained by Chalkbeat. Koby Levin, Detroit Free Press, "Thousands of grade school children in Detroit go without recess," 7 July 2018 According to the records obtained by the Miami Herald, unit shift commander Lt. CBS News, "Florida officers punished for drinking beer during Hurricane Irma," 6 July 2018 The charge against East Pittsburgh Officer Michael Rosfeld is included in court records obtained by media organizations. Fox News, "The Latest: Cop surrenders on homicide charge in teen death," 27 June 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

24 Oct 2018

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

: to gain or get (something) usually by effort

: 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

Comments on obtain

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