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

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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.
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Recent Examples on the Web

That notion was officially debunked in 2013 when the CIA confirmed its existence through documents obtained in a public records request by George Washington University. Michael Brice-saddler, Anchorage Daily News, "Half a million people signed up to storm Area 51. What happens if they actually show up?," 13 July 2019 That notion was officially debunked in 2013 when the CIA confirmed its existence through documents obtained in a public records request by George Washington University. oregonlive.com, "Half a million people signed up to storm Area 51. What happens if they actually show up?," 13 July 2019 Bob Orndorff, a lobbyist for Dominion Energy, wrote the resolution and sent it to the House of Delegates, according to documents obtained through a public records request filed by the Charleston Gazette-Mail with the clerk of the House of Delegates. Kate Mishkin, ProPublica, "A Resolution Condemning Pipeline Challengers Passed Easily. A Pipeline Lobbyist Wrote It.," 11 July 2019 Bruce Pettway’s name is listed on a business license obtained in Graysville for the site of the old Lowe’s building. Carol Robinson | Crobinson@al.com, al.com, "Alabama sheriff’s brother sues Attorney General over $240,000 seized in bingo feud," 10 July 2019 The searches were uncovered in documents obtained through public record requests by Georgetown Law’s Center on Privacy and Technology. Ally Marotti, chicagotribune.com, "ICE used facial recognition to scan driver’s license photos in some states. Illinois says it has turned down ICE requests.," 9 July 2019 Iran has responded with a series of steps away from its obligations under the accord, which was intended to block Tehran from obtaining a nuclear weapon, in exchange for the lifting of sanctions. Megan Specia, BostonGlobe.com, "Iran says it has surpassed critical nuclear enrichment limit in 2015 accord," 8 July 2019 After obtaining a government lifeline for Chrysler in 1979, Mr. Iacocca showed that a company could survive and prosper with a bailout from Washington — a path others tried to follow during the global financial crisis nearly three decades later. Keith Bradsher, New York Times, "Lee Iacocca Was a C.E.O. for the Television Age," 3 July 2019 Going forward, Kudlow suggested, the Commerce Department would grant more licenses, which have been difficult to obtain in the month since the ban was implemented. Clare Duffy, CNN, "Trump said he'd ease up on Huawei. Questions remain about what that means," 3 July 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.

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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

18 Jul 2019

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

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.

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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

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