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

The department's reluctance to share data from or about student loan servicers was revealed in documents and correspondence to the Senate education subcommittee recently obtained by NBC News. NBC News, "Inside the Education Department's effort to 'obstruct' student loan investigations," 9 Sep. 2019 Ito wrote in an internal e-mail obtained by The New Yorker. John Bacon, USA TODAY, "MIT Media Lab chief out after 'deeply disturbing' link to Jeffrey Epstein," 8 Sep. 2019 Assistant Chief Bisa French — the city’s youngest captain and its first African-American woman to achieve the rank — will serve as acting police chief, Interim City Manager Steve Falk said in an email to officers obtained by this news organization. Erin Baldassari, The Mercury News, "Richmond police chief ‘out of the office’ following union’s vote of no confidence," 7 Sep. 2019 Images obtained by The Associated Press early Saturday from Maxar Technologies appeared to show the vessel off Syria's coast, some 2 nautical miles (3.7 kilometers) off shore under intermittent cloud cover. Nasser Karimi, Fox News, "Iran injects gas into advanced centrifuges, violating deal," 7 Sep. 2019 When Officer Dominic Marziano arrived, Williams was walking around the tow truck and climbing into the bed, body camera footage obtained by The Denver Post showed. Elise Schmelzer, The Denver Post, "Aurora police beat, shocked man who was having a seizure, federal lawsuit says," 6 Sep. 2019 Also with her was a fellow student Berenice Felipe, according to a letter sent to the school community obtained by NBC News. Anchorage Daily News, "Only 1 person remains missing from dive boat fire," 5 Sep. 2019 That doesn’t mean every player obtained by the Sashi Brown front office (2016-17) was a mistake. Terry Pluto, cleveland.com, "Cleveland Browns: Try to guess who is left from when John Dorsey became GM," 2 Sep. 2019 Fierle was appointed Stryker’s guardian during a hearing that lasted less than three minutes, a recording obtained by the Sentinel shows. Monivette Cordeiro, orlandosentinel.com, "Florida guardianship laws weakened by elder law attorneys’ lobbying. For some courts, exceptions have become the rule | Special report," 30 Aug. 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

12 Sep 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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to make a temporary encampment

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