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 their 2008 white paper, released in the shadow of a global financial meltdown, Nakamoto sketched a vision for a new electronic money and peer-to-peer payment system that would obviate the need for troublesome intermediaries like banks. Joel Khalili, WIRED, 2 Feb. 2024 The Pentagon will provide the president with a variety of options designed to restore deterrence, none of which will totally obviate the risk of a spiraling confrontation with Iran. The Editors, National Review, 29 Jan. 2024 Several members have also stressed that a special counsel’s investigation does not obviate their oversight responsibilities or the administration’s obligation to share sensitive materials with Capitol Hill. Julian E. Barnes, New York Times, 11 Apr. 2023 Lessening restrictions does not obviate the need for patient education on safe storage practices to reduce the risk of accidental exposure for children. Joëlla W. Adams, STAT, 5 Jan. 2024 The movement is wound and set via the bezel, obviating the need for a conventional crown. Oren Hartov, Robb Report, 24 Nov. 2023 If Boyfriend and Girlfriend marry instead of cohabiting gifts between them, assuming that the are both US citizens are of no import as the unlimited gift tax marital deduction would obviate any gift tax issues. Martin Shenkman, Forbes, 13 Aug. 2023 More importantly for financial markets, investors also took comments by the Fed's chair to mean that recent jumps in longer-term Treasury yields were acting like rate-increase substitutes and could obviate the need for more increases by the Fed. Stan Choe The Associated Press, Arkansas Online, 3 Nov. 2023 The technique would obviate the need to cut large slabs of metal into the product’s shape. Mark Gurman, Fortune, 31 Aug. 2023 See More

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 25 Feb. 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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