ob·​vi·​ous | \ ˈäb-vē-əs How to pronounce obvious (audio) \

Definition of obvious

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

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Other Words from obvious

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

Examples of obvious in a Sentence

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.
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Recent Examples on the Web

Russell Park said powerful rip currents, like those that carried Zakrewski away, are not obvious to the naked eye. David K. Li, NBC News, "Georgia man saved his 8-year-old daughter from rip current in Florida. Then he drowned.," 11 July 2019 To find a particular path within this tradition is not always obvious, especially for a writer so allergic to earnestness and stock narratives. Parul Sehgal, New York Times, "In ‘The Nickel Boys,’ Colson Whitehead Continues to Make a Classic American Genre His Own," 11 July 2019 The root cause of [Iran’s] countermeasures are obvious to us. Erin Cunningham, BostonGlobe.com, "US accuses Iran of ‘nuclear extortion’ at emergency meeting of atomic energy watchdog," 10 July 2019 The inequities at the national and international governing bodies are blatantly obvious. Mercury News & East Bay Times Editorial Boards, The Mercury News, "Editorial: Pay up, FIFA. End double standard for women soccer players," 10 July 2019 Patterns that might now be obvious from a list of numbers leap out from a map. San Diego Union-Tribune, "Chimp champ Jane Goodall enlists advanced mapping technology for nature and humanity," 9 July 2019 The machinations couldn’t be more obvious, as evidence that surfaced in June in the files of a Republican redistricting expert suggests. Elaine Ayala, ExpressNews.com, "Citizenship question is already being asked by the Census Bureau’s ongoing American Community Survey," 6 July 2019 Social Security’s rules are also complicated, particularly for married people, and the ideal strategy isn’t always obvious. Bloomberg, latimes.com, "Americans lose trillions claiming Social Security benefits at the wrong time," 1 July 2019 Murphy has looked to clothing throughout her life to help define her identity and embrace the parts of herself that were not always obvious to the outside world. Jessica Schiffer, Seventeen, "Memphis Murphy On ‘90s Style, Transitioning With Confidence, and What It Means to Be a Queer Model Today," 27 June 2019

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.

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First Known Use of obvious

1583, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for obvious

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

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Statistics for obvious

Last Updated

16 Jul 2019

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Time Traveler for obvious

The first known use of obvious was in 1583

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English Language Learners Definition of obvious

: easy to see or notice
: easy for the mind to understand or recognize


ob·​vi·​ous | \ ˈäb-vē-əs How to pronounce obvious (audio) \

Kids Definition of obvious

: 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

Other Words from obvious

obviously adverb
obviousness noun



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.

Other Words from obvious

obviousness noun

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More from Merriam-Webster on obvious

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for obvious

Spanish Central: Translation of obvious

Nglish: Translation of obvious for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of obvious for Arabic Speakers

Comments on obvious

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


to form ideas or theories about something

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