ob·​vi·​ate ˈäb-vē-ˌāt How to pronounce obviate (audio)
obviated; obviating

transitive verb

: to anticipate and prevent (something, such as a situation) or make (an action) unnecessary
The new medical treatment obviates the need for surgery.
obviation noun

Did you know?

Obviate derives from the Late Latin obviare (meaning "to meet or withstand") and the Latin obviam (meaning "in the way") and is also an ancestor of our adjective obvious. Obviate has a number of synonyms in English, including prevent, preclude, and avert; all of these words can mean "to hinder or stop something." When you prevent or preclude something, you put up an insurmountable obstacle. In addition, preclude often implies that a degree of chance was involved in stopping an event. Obviate generally suggests the use of intelligence or forethought to ward off trouble. Avert always implies that a bad situation has been anticipated and prevented or deflected by the application of immediate and effective means.

Example Sentences

The new medical treatment obviates the need for surgery. The new treatment obviates many of the risks associated with surgery.
Recent Examples on the Web In addition, there are other means in a real-time attempt to obviate especially egregious outputs. Lance Eliot, Forbes, 3 Jan. 2023 As the use of pre-trained algorithms like DALL·E 2 starts to obviate the need for dataset curation, prompt curation offers an alternative way of developing a personal artistic style. Wired, 18 July 2022 Payment would be viewed as blood money, an atonement to wash away German sins – and, of course, nothing could ever obviate the evil of the Third Reich. Rabbi Avi Weiss, Sun Sentinel, 23 Jan. 2023 The right mechanism — the right hinge, or connection, or pivot — could elegantly obviate the need for more cumbersome, clunkier, moving parts. Stephen Ornes, Discover Magazine, 14 Nov. 2020 The simplest way to obviate this problem is to have the debt limit law declared unconstitutional, since the constitution says that the US debt cannot be interfered with. Theodoric Meyer, Washington Post, 13 Jan. 2023 But, this more detailed look at a genomic sequence does not necessarily obviate the need for higher level categories, such as race. Razib Khan, Discover Magazine, 9 Feb. 2011 There’s no other body that can obviate state laws except Congress. Dallas News, 1 Aug. 2022 This case report highlights the importance of focused history taking of patients which can thereby obviate the need for further investigations. Seriously Science, Discover Magazine, 10 Nov. 2017 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'obviate.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Word History


Late Latin obviatus, past participle of obviare to meet, withstand, from Latin obviam

First Known Use

1567, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of obviate was in 1567


Dictionary Entries Near obviate

Cite this Entry

“Obviate.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/obviate. Accessed 30 Mar. 2023.

Kids Definition


ob·​vi·​ate ˈäb-vē-ˌāt How to pronounce obviate (audio)
obviated; obviating
: to anticipate and take care of beforehand
obviate an objection

More from Merriam-Webster on obviate

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