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 The cruise line would still have to obtain approval from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Ron Hurtibise, sun-sentinel.com, "Norwegian becomes first cruise line to announce return of U.S.-based voyages," 5 Apr. 2021 By 2013, officials in Ürümqi had begun to affix QR codes to the exterior of homes, which security personnel could scan to obtain details about residents. Raffi Khatchadourian, The New Yorker, "Surviving the Crackdown in Xinjiang," 5 Apr. 2021 Reporters were not permitted to see it, lawyers were required to obtain a court order to visit and its location was considered classified, although sources pointed to it on a satellite map of the base. New York Times, "Military Closes Failing Facility at Guantánamo Bay to Consolidate Prisoners," 4 Apr. 2021 Still, Psaki said in her statement on Monday that the administration will not require Americans to obtain vaccination credentials. Alaa Elassar, CNN, "ACLU warns 'a lot can go wrong' with digital vaccine passports," 3 Apr. 2021 Four days later, the team used telescopes in the Canary Islands and Hawaii to obtain vital data on its properties. Quanta Magazine, "New Kind of Space Explosion Reveals the Birth of a Black Hole," 10 Mar. 2021 The medical information gathered at the combine is a valuable part of the annual event, and the NFL hopes to work with team physicians and trainers to obtain the data, with plans for in-person medical tests next month for select players. Mark Inabinett | Minabinett@al.com, al, "NFL Combine issues invitations for ‘different format’ event," 5 Mar. 2021 This data is stored on a variety of memory formats, such as tablets, smartphones and laptops, and hackers can use a number of acquisition methods to obtain that data. Renee Schafer, Forbes, "The Do's And Don'ts Of Digital Data Disposal," 5 Mar. 2021 Evanina pointed a finger at the Chinese biotech firm formerly known as the Beijing Genomics Institute but now known by just its initials, BGI, and other Chinese efforts to obtain U.S. data. Jerry Dunleavy, Washington Examiner, "Trump counterintelligence chief warns China is trying to acquire American DNA and health data," 1 Feb. 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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Statistics for obtain

Last Updated

7 Apr 2021

Cite this Entry

“Obtain.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/obtain. Accessed 16 Apr. 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.

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Comments on obtain

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