ob·​vi·​ous ˈäb-vē-əs How to pronounce obvious (audio)
: easily discovered, seen, or understood
It was obvious that things weren't working out.
She stayed for obvious reasons.
archaic : being in the way or in front
obviousness noun
Choose the Right Synonym for 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

Example Sentences

Her doctor immediately noticed the obvious signs of the disease. She saw only the most obvious differences. It was obvious that things weren't working out. The answer seems obvious enough to me. The problem was immediately obvious to everyone in the room. He was the obvious candidate for president. The obvious question is: how did he become so successful? For obvious reasons, I would not like to reveal my name. See More
Recent Examples on the Web However, an old Instagram post from Holmes celebrating his 10-year wedding anniversary has been immortalized in screenshots that have gone viral on social media, for obvious reasons. Christi Carrasstaff Writer, Los Angeles Times, 1 Dec. 2022 Block Island Wind Farm and Hornsea 2 are owned by the same company, which used to be known as Danish Oil and Natural Gas, or DONG, but recently—and for obvious reasons—changed its name, to Ørsted. Elizabeth Kolbert, The New Yorker, 21 Nov. 2022 The emoji modifiers also feel insufficient for more obvious reasons: Despite the range of skin tones available, the broad strokes of these pictographs fail to capture the complexities of individual identity. Meghan O'gieblyn, WIRED, 17 Nov. 2022 Outlook: For obvious reasons, the interest in this game would be through the roof. Jason Beede, Orlando Sentinel, 15 Nov. 2022 There are, of course, a couple of obvious reasons why home birth has an outsize presence among famous women. Carrie Battan, ELLE, 10 Nov. 2022 The San Francisco Giants and outfielder Aaron Judge, who spent seven seasons with the Yankees but is now a free agent for the first time in his career, have been linked for obvious reasons. James Wagner, New York Times, 10 Nov. 2022 This must have been an incredibly difficult film to make, for the obvious reasons: how does a filmmaker and his cast carry on after the loss of such a dazzling colleague? Stephanie Zacharek, Time, 8 Nov. 2022 The sector is building a lot of momentum for obvious reasons—businesses have always wanted the ability to move money around faster, and individual consumers have become annoyed with waiting around for refunds. Ashley Belanger, Ars Technica, 8 Nov. 2022 See More

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.

Word History


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

First Known Use

1583, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of obvious was in 1583

Dictionary Entries Near obvious

Cite this Entry

“Obvious.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/obvious. Accessed 7 Dec. 2022.

Kids Definition


ob·​vi·​ous ˈäb-vē-əs How to pronounce obvious (audio)
: easily found, seen, or understood : plain
an obvious mistake
obviousness noun

Legal Definition


: 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.

obviousness noun

More from Merriam-Webster on obvious

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