ob·​vi·​ate | \ ˈäb-vē-ˌāt How to pronounce obviate (audio) \
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.

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from obviate

obviation \ ˌäb-​vē-​ˈā-​shən How to pronounce obviation (audio) \ 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 Doing one doesn’t obviate the need to do the other. Los Angeles Times, "As our world reopens, can I trust you to keep me safe from the coronavirus?," 30 May 2020 Many Republicans are holding out hope that states will successfully be able to reopen in the coming weeks and obviate the need to add more to this year’s record breaking budget deficit. Jennifer Jacobs, Bloomberg.com, "GOP Cites Powell in Defending Their Wait-and-See on New Stimulus," 15 May 2020 Given the number of variables, widespread screening tests for the virus are not looming on the horizon as a way to obviate the urgent need for social distancing. James Hamblin, The Atlantic, "What Will You Do If You Start Coughing?," 11 Mar. 2020 Twitter can keep us informed (and anxious) about the pandemic, but this doesn’t obviate concerns about its long-term effects on our public discourse. Andrew Marantz, The New Yorker, "What the Coronavirus Crisis Has Changed About Social Media, and What It Hasn’t Changed," 26 Mar. 2020 This rigging obviated the need for an unsightly head strap but also rendered one speechless, an attribute for a woman in 16th-century England. Lynn Yaeger, New York Times, "The Artists Keeping Up the Tradition of Mask-Making," 17 Feb. 2020 Access does not obviate the requirement that the plaintiff must demonstrate that the defendant actually copied the work. Allen Kim, CNN, "Led Zeppelin wins major copyright battle for 'Stairway to Heaven'," 10 Mar. 2020 The duchy said that its capital gains were all reinvested in the business, obviating the need to tax them, and that only companies paid corporation tax. Benjamin Mueller, New York Times, "Harry and Meghan’s Big Funding Source Is Private. Sort of.," 27 Jan. 2020 The outward thrust, which would cause the lower areas to bulge outward and collapse, is obviated by the high angle of the construction (and the caramel, which acts in tension binding the pastry puffs which are the compression elements). Gabriella Gershenson, Saveur, "The Structural Soundness of Your Favorite Desserts, According to Architects," 30 Jan. 2017

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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about obviate

Time Traveler for obviate

Time Traveler

The first known use of obviate was in 1567

See more words from the same year

Listen to Our Podcast about obviate

Statistics for obviate

Last Updated

2 Jun 2020

Cite this Entry

“Obviate.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/obviate. Accessed 7 Jun. 2020.

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for obviate


How to pronounce obviate (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of obviate

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

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on obviate

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for obviate

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with obviate

Spanish Central: Translation of obviate

Nglish: Translation of obviate for Spanish Speakers

Comments on obviate

What made you want to look up obviate? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


See Definitions and Examples »

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

May 2020 Words of the Day Quiz

  • a blooming wisteria tree
  • Which is a synonym of exiguous?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Syn City

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!