ob·​vi·​ate | \ˈäb-vē-ˌāt \
obviated; obviating

Definition of obviate 

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.

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Other Words from obviate

obviation \ˌäb-​vē-​ˈā-​shən \ noun

Did You Know?

Obviate derives from Late Latin obviare (meaning "to meet or withstand") and Latin obviam, which means "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

This would obviate the need for patents and make a huge amount of unpatentable research available for commercialization. Paul J. Marangos, WSJ, "The Terminally Ill Need More Than the ‘Right to Try’," 13 Aug. 2018 In a letter to three congressional committee chairmen, Mr. Sessions said an existing Justice Department inquiry into issues raised earlier by the lawmakers included an examination of the surveillance matter, obviating the need for a special counsel. Katie Benner, New York Times, "Sessions Rejects Republican Calls for Second Special Counsel," 29 Mar. 2018 Also, this bill should provide 10 years of marketing exclusivity for terminal-disease drugs which would obviate the need for patents and open a huge trove of currently unpatentable science for development. WSJ, "The ‘Right to Try’ Bill Wasn’t Worth Passing," 4 June 2018 His skills as a draftsman, especially in watercolor, obviated any assist from a mechanical device. Richard B. Woodward, WSJ, "‘Winslow Homer and the Camera: Photography and the Art of Painting’ Review: An Unclear Creative Influence," 4 July 2018 Nor does the national political situation obviate the needs of people in local communities all across the country. Alexis C. Madrigal, The Atlantic, "Civic Tech in a Time of Technopessimism," 25 June 2018 But that doesn’t obviate one blinding fact, which the Israeli military has warned about, over and over: Deteriorating economic conditions in Gaza raise the risk of uncontrollable flareups – especially when hope dies. Trudy Rubin, Philly.com, "Truth about Gaza: 3 myths keeping U.S., Jerusalem from owning up to their roles in the crisis | Trudy Rubin," 18 May 2018 In the second option, the U.K. would use technology, such as electronic tracking of goods, to obviate the need for most border controls. Stephen Fidler, WSJ, "The Tortuous Road to a Brexit Customs Deal," 12 May 2018 The presumption is that using a DC motor would allow the vehicle to be powered directly from the battery, obviating the need for an inverter. The Economist, "Do electric cars dream of software fixes?," 22 Apr. 2018

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.

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First Known Use of obviate

1567, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for obviate

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

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Statistics for obviate

Last Updated

18 Nov 2018

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Time Traveler for obviate

The first known use of obviate was in 1567

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English Language Learners Definition of obviate

: to make (something) no longer necessary : to prevent or avoid (something)

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More from Merriam-Webster on obviate

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with obviate

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for obviate

Spanish Central: Translation of obviate

Nglish: Translation of obviate for Spanish Speakers

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