Definition of obtain
: to gain or attain usually by planned action or effort The information was difficult to obtain. We obtained a copy of the original letter.
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
obtainabilityplay \əb-ˌtā-nə-ˈbi-lə-tē, äb-\ noun
obtainableplay \əb-ˈtā-nə-bəl, äb-\ adjective
obtainmentplay \əb-ˈtān-mənt, äb-\ noun
obtain was our Word of the Day on 06/09/2015. Hear the podcast!
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 of obtain from the Web
The invitation, obtained by The Associated Press on Sunday, says the Republican president and Rep. Tom MacArthur of southern New Jersey’s 3rd District will host the June 11 event at Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster.
To obtain them, however, a would-be terrorist would need both considerable cash (a black-market Glock costs upward of 2000 pounds) and access to an organized criminal network.
Pritzker did not directly ask for the Senate appointment on the calls the Tribune obtained.
The Clean Air Act requires carmakers to obtain certification from the EPA that a vehicle meets federal emission standards before selling it.
Police obtained surveillance video of the parking lot of Sam's Market at 21st Avenue and Virginia Street, about one block from where Carter's body was found.
A law passed last year requires ticket sellers to obtain a license that can be revoked if they are convicted of a crime while selling tickets.
The briefings obtained by The Intercept were sent by TigerSwan’s deputy security director Al Ornoski to a variety of recipients, including the Gmail account of Sheriff Danzeisen.
Records obtained by the Times indicate her second surgery lasted 70 minutes, with 40 of those minutes overlapping with another case.
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.
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).
Origin and Etymology of 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
First Known Use: 15th century
OBTAIN Defined for English Language Learners
Definition of obtain for English Language Learners
: to gain or get (something) usually by effort
: to continue to be accepted or in use
OBTAIN Defined for Kids
Definition of obtain for Students
: to gain or get hold of with effort She was able to obtain a ticket to the show. We obtained permission to enter.
Word Root of obtain
The Latin words tenēre, meaning “to hold,” gives us the roots ten and tain. Words from the Latin tenēre have something to do with holding. Something tenacious holds on and is not easily gotten rid of. To contain is to hold things together inside. To obtain is to get hold of. To retain is to continue to hold.
Seen and Heard
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