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 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 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 addition to requiring the president to obtain congressional approval before exercising these powers, each authorization must meet specific requirements, including an automatic end date. Melissa Quinn, CBS News, 20 July 2021 Companies listing in Hong Kong would still need to be vetted by the CAC and obtain approval from the Chinese securities watchdog under the new framework being considered by Beijing, according to the outlet. Jane Li, Quartz, 16 July 2021 That means a pool’s owner would have to obtain a license and meet construction requirements that are more onerous. From Usa Today Network And Wire Reports, USA TODAY, 15 July 2021 That means a pool's owner would have to obtain a license and meet construction requirements that are more onerous. Scott Bauer, Star Tribune, 14 July 2021 The anticipation for child welfare data this fall underscores the critical role that teachers play in the reporting process and the ways in which data from 2020 has been difficult to obtain and analyze. Paul Leblanc, CNN, 11 July 2021 As part of the settlement, the city vowed to implement a number of changes in how local officers obtain and execute search warrants. Washington Post, 10 July 2021 Some municipalities need to hold board meetings to obtain approval or are waiting to receive an identification number from the federal government that tracks how federal money is distributed. Hope Karnopp, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 3 July 2021 To enter, travelers will need to obtain a QR code from the Spain Travel Health portal and show proof of vaccination. Geoff Whitmore, Forbes, 16 June 2021

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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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

obstruse

obstupefy

obt

obtain

obtainal

obtd

obtect

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Statistics for obtain

Last Updated

24 Jul 2021

Cite this Entry

“Obtain.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/obtain. Accessed 26 Jul. 2021.

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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.

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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