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

Other Words from obtain

obtainability \ əb-​ˌtā-​nə-​ˈbi-​lə-​tē How to pronounce obtain (audio) , äb-​ \ noun
obtainable \ əb-​ˈtā-​nə-​bəl How to pronounce obtain (audio) , äb-​ \ adjective
obtainer noun
obtainment \ əb-​ˈtān-​mənt How to pronounce obtain (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 hold on to, possess." Obtinēre was itself formed by the combination of ob-, meaning "in the way," and the verb tenēre, meaning "to hold." In its earliest uses, obtain often implied a conquest or a successful victory in battle, but it is now used for any attainment through planned action or effort. The verb tenēre has incontestably prevailed in the English language, providing us with such common words as abstain, contain, detain, sustain, and, perhaps less obviously, the adjectives tenable and tenacious.

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 on the Web In the short run, the Afghan Fund might also be able to obtain Taliban coöperation and American acquiescence for relatively small disbursements to benefit civilians, such as the manufacture of bank notes. Steve Coll, The New Yorker, 14 Sep. 2022 After four years of paperwork, AJ was able to obtain his grandfather's original Land Between the Lakes still. courier-journal.com, 6 Sep. 2022 Through Uber, Sorrenti said that hackers were able to obtain her phone number, home address and email address, as well as the addresses and numbers of her family members. Ben Collins, NBC News, 2 Sep. 2022 Intuit says that 60% of customers who obtain loans through this product—which is called QuickBook Capital—would not qualify for a loan from a bank. Jeremy Kahn, Fortune, 26 Aug. 2022 The district attorney has also been investigating whether Trump or his company lied to banks or the government about the value of its properties to obtain loans or reduce tax bills. Michael R. Sisak, Anchorage Daily News, 18 Aug. 2022 The district attorney has also been investigating whether Trump or his company lied to banks or the government about the value of its properties to obtain loans or reduce tax bills. Michael R. Sisak, BostonGlobe.com, 18 Aug. 2022 The district attorney has also been investigating whether Trump or his company lied to banks or the government about the value of its properties to obtain loans or reduce tax bills. Michael R. Sisak, ajc, 18 Aug. 2022 That inquiry is focused on whether Mr. Trump fraudulently inflated the value of his hotels, golf clubs and other assets to obtain loans. New York Times, 18 Aug. 2022 See More

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.

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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Time Traveler for obtain

Time Traveler

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

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Dictionary Entries Near obtain

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Last Updated

22 Sep 2022

Cite this Entry

“Obtain.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/obtain. Accessed 1 Oct. 2022.

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More Definitions for obtain

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.

More from Merriam-Webster on obtain

Nglish: Translation of obtain for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of obtain for Arabic Speakers

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