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.

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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 Suu Kyi also said Wednesday that Myanmar could depend on its own justice system to prosecute any crimes that might have occurred in Rakhine, obviating the need for an international court to get involved. BostonGlobe.com, "As Myanmar genocide hearing closes, focus is on trapped Rohingya - The Boston Globe," 13 Dec. 2019 But getting a stent does not obviate the need for medical therapy, Dr. Boden noted. New York Times, "Surgery for Blocked Arteries Is Often Unwarranted, Researchers Find," 16 Nov. 2019 And another point shouldn’t be glossed over: doing away with lets obviates the still-existing technological glitches. Jon Wertheim, SI.com, "Mailbag: What Should We Make of Serena's Recent Struggles in Finals?," 2 Oct. 2019 And what about games-streaming platforms like Google Stadia, which could obviate the need for consoles entirely? Alex Fitzpatrick, Time, "Shuntaro Furukawa Is Ready to Take Nintendo to the Next Level," 22 Oct. 2019 Nowadays, however, the vast majority of South Asian farmers rely on an external seed supply, which obviates the need to conserve the purity of homegrown seeds. Debal Deb, Scientific American, "The Struggle to Save Heirloom Rice in India," 16 Oct. 2019 But in a late reversal, MacArthur decided to bypass Mindanao in favor of Leyte, thus obviating the need for the Peleliu runway. Hampton Sides, Time, "Douglas MacArthur Is One of America's Most Famous Generals. He's Also the Most Overrated," 11 Nov. 2019 Just because people die from lung cancer or firearms discharge doesn’t obviate the need for traffic planning or building-construction codes or occupational-safety practices. Ian Bogost, The Atlantic, "Technology Sabotaged Public Safety," 10 Oct. 2019 The abundance of craft beer has, for many beer lovers, obviated the need to do it yourself. Paul Takahashi, Houston Chronicle, "Houston’s craft beer craze more than doubles brewery space in six years," 23 Aug. 2019

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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Time Traveler for obviate

Time Traveler

The first known use of obviate was in 1567

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Last Updated

14 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Obviate.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/obviating. Accessed 24 January 2020.

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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)

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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).


a feeling of well-being or elation

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