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 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 That, the Americans hope, would obviate the need for presidential polls that are due to be held in Afghanistan on September 28th and that are likely to result in the usual bickering over alleged electoral fraud. The Economist, "America and the Afghan Taliban appear closer to a deal," 15 Aug. 2019 Pushing for strong opt-in policies doesn’t obviate an eventual omnibus privacy law. Brian Barrett, WIRED, "Hey, Apple! 'Opt Out' Is Useless. Let People Opt In," 2 Aug. 2019 The two obviously had a meeting of the minds that obviated the need to spell out their references. Michael Mccann, SI.com, "Five Key Takeaways From Ohio State's Records Release Involving Urban Meyer, Zach Smith," 2 Aug. 2019 Viewed from this perspective, statist health-care reform seems more like a false pledge than a real panacea: a magic pill that, once swallowed, will obviate our responsibility to confront our ailing relationships and unhealthy choices. William A. Estes, National Review, "The American Medical Association Flirts with Socialized Medicine," 28 June 2019 The goal of the talks was to see if there were actions the administration could take that would obviate some of the amendments House Democrats have been trying to attach to the Senate border funding bill. Rebecca Kaplan, CBS News, "House passes unchanged version of Senate border bill," 27 June 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

2 Dec 2019

Cite this Entry

“Obviate.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/obviation?pronunciation&lang=en_us&dir=o&file=obviat02. Accessed 7 December 2019.

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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

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