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

Keep scrolling for more

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.
See More

Recent Examples on the Web

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 Plus: Brazil now offers an e-visa service—U.S. citizens no longer need to go through the once time-consuming process of obtaining entry rights. Nick Remsen, Vogue, "Rio de Janeiro, Right Now: 5 Reasons to Visit the Extraordinary Brazilian City," 19 Mar. 2019 According to Time, the police worked with the press to disseminate information in the hopes of obtaining leads, but all law enforcement ended up getting were false confessions, all of which were eventually debunked. Chloe Foussianes, Town & Country, "The True Story of I Am the Night: How the Black Dahlia and George Hodel Were Connected," 10 Feb. 2019 According to a screenshot obtained by TVInsider, Eric shut down the rumors of an exit in one concise response. Megan Stein, Country Living, "Is Eric Christian Olsen Leaving 'NCIS: Los Angeles?'," 16 Dec. 2018 The decision came after failing to restructure, obtain alternative financing or find a buyer, Johnson Publishing said in a news release. ... Aisha Al-muslim, WSJ, "Johnson Publishing Files for Bankruptcy, Plans to Sell Assets," 9 Apr. 2019 Following the interview, New York detectives obtained an arrest warrant for Cabrarasantos charging him with murder and other violent felonies, state police said. Nicholas Rondinone, courant.com, "Connecticut Troopers Capture 12th Suspect In Brutal Slaying Of NYC Teen," 10 July 2018 The administration’s rule loosened requirements on association health plans, where groups or associations join together and obtain health coverage that is generally lower cost but lack benefits mandated under ACA. Stephanie Armour, WSJ, "Federal Judge Blocks Trump Rule on Association Health Plans," 28 Mar. 2019 Below is the reported phone call between Loughlin and CW-1, or Cooperating Witness #1, as obtained by Vice. Kayla Keegan, Good Housekeeping, "Read Lori Loughlin's Bizarre Wiretapped Phone Conversation With College Admissions Scammer," 13 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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about obtain

Listen to Our Podcast about obtain

Dictionary Entries near obtain

obstruse

obstupefy

obt

obtain

obtainal

obtd

obtect

Statistics for obtain

Last Updated

9 May 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for obtain

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

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

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.

Keep scrolling for more

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

What made you want to look up obtain? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

WORD OF THE DAY

to make a payment or contribution

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Time Traveler Quiz: Which Word Came First?

  • time traveler quiz which word came first
  • Which came first?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

TAKE THE QUIZ
SCRABBLE® Sprint

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!