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.

Examples of obviate in a Sentence

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 other words, the West must formulate a major policy vision that obviates the desire of Ukraine and its staunchest supporters to have Russia smashed and neutralized. Vladislav Zubok, Foreign Affairs, 21 Dec. 2022 Electronic dart machines displaced the steel-tip boards, and Amazon obviated the company’s niche middleman status. David Hudnall, Kansas City Star, 29 May 2024 SPACs were also heralded as a potential solution (an IPO-lite process designed for small companies), and the market initially met them with excitement, but in recent years, they’ve been overburdened with regulations that all but obviate their intended purpose. Eric Hippeau, Fortune, 28 May 2024 In an ideal world, the forms that Carter and Delmore-Sullivan had signed would have obviated the need for that question. Eric Boodman, STAT, 21 May 2024 Long-acting therapies may obviate the need to remember to take a daily pill to prevent or treat H.I.V. And for some patients, the new drugs may ease the stigma of the disease, itself an obstacle to treatment. Apoorva Mandavilli, New York Times, 17 Apr. 2024 But now Tesla offers Autopilot as standard on all new car purchases, obviating the need for the price differential. Andrew J. Hawkins, The Verge, 12 Apr. 2024 But Russian engineers recently completed a new railroad that connects Rostov, in southern Russia, to Mariupol in occupied southern Ukraine—obviating the need for high-volume sea shipments to sustain Russia’s troops along Ukraine’s southern front. David Axe, Forbes, 26 Mar. 2024 If passed, the federal tax bill could obviate most of the technical problems that taxpayers faced relying on the usual disaster relief provisions with the IRS. Robert W. Wood, Forbes, 13 Feb. 2024

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'obviate.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

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 23 Jun. 2024.

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

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