adjective ob·vi·ous \ ˈäb-vē-əs \
|Updated on: 16 Jul 2018

Definition of obvious

1 archaic : being in the way or in front
2 : easily discovered, seen, or understood
  • It was obvious that things weren't working out.
  • She stayed for obvious reasons.



Examples of obvious in a Sentence

  1. Her doctor immediately noticed the obvious signs of the disease.

  2. She saw only the most obvious differences.

  3. It was obvious that things weren't working out.

  4. The answer seems obvious enough to me.

  5. The problem was immediately obvious to everyone in the room.

  6. He was the obvious candidate for president.

  7. The obvious question is: how did he become so successful?

  8. For obvious reasons, I would not like to reveal my name.

Recent Examples of obvious from the Web

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'obvious.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Origin and Etymology of obvious

Latin obvius, from obviam in the way, from ob in the way of + viam, accusative of via way — more at ob-, via

Synonym Discussion of obvious

evident, manifest, patent, distinct, obvious, apparent, plain, clear mean readily perceived or apprehended. evident implies presence of visible signs that lead one to a definite conclusion.
    • an evident fondness for sweets
manifest implies an external display so evident that little or no inference is required.
    • manifest hostility
patent applies to a cause, effect, or significant feature that is clear and unmistakable once attention has been directed to it.
    • patent defects
distinct implies such sharpness of outline or definition that no unusual effort to see or hear or comprehend is required.
    • a distinct refusal
obvious implies such ease in discovering that it often suggests conspicuousness or little need for perspicacity in the observer.
    • the obvious solution
apparent is very close to evident except that it may imply more conscious exercise of inference.
    • for no apparent reason
plain suggests lack of intricacy, complexity, or elaboration.
    • her feelings about him are plain
clear implies an absence of anything that confuses the mind or obscures the pattern.
    • a clear explanation

OBVIOUS Defined for English Language Learners


Definition of obvious for English Language Learners

  • : easy to see or notice

  • : easy for the mind to understand or recognize

OBVIOUS Defined for Kids


adjective ob·vi·ous \ ˈäb-vē-əs \

Definition of obvious for Students

: easily found, seen, or understood
  • He … held on to me, even after it was obvious that I was not going to fall.
  • —Sharon Creech, Walk Two Moons





Law Dictionary


adjective ob·vi·ous

legal Definition of obvious

: easily seen, discovered, or understood; specifically : readily apparent to a person of ordinary skill in a particular art considering the scope and content of the prior art — see also patent
Note: An invention that is found to be obvious cannot be patented.



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a downward inclination or slope

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