1 : to gain or attain usually by planned action or effort
2 : to be generally recognized or established : prevail
Did You Know?
Obtain, which was adopted into English in the 15th century, comes to us via Anglo-French from the Latin obtinēre, meaning "to take hold of." Obtinēre was itself formed by the combination of ob-, meaning "in the way," and the verb tenēre, meaning "to hold." In its earliest uses, obtain often implied a conquest or a successful victory in battle, but it is now used for any attainment through planned action or effort. The verb tenēre has incontestably prevailed in the English language, providing us with such common words as abstain, contain, detain, sustain, and, perhaps less obviously, the adjectives tenable and tenacious.
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"Business owners and musical acts that want to participate in the series can sign up online and skip the trip to City Hall to pay fees andobtainacoustic entertainment licenses…." - Steve Annear, Boston Globe, April 28, 2015
Test Your Vocabulary with M-W Quizzes
Word Family Quiz
What 5-letter noun beginning with "t" is derived from Latin tenēre and can refer to the drift of something spoken or written or to the character of something? The answer is …
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