ob·​so·​lete | \ ˌäb-sə-ˈlēt How to pronounce obsolete (audio) , ˈäb-sə-ˌlēt \

Essential Meaning of obsolete

1 : no longer used because something newer exists obsolete [=outdated] computers The system was made/rendered obsolete by their invention. : replaced by something newer obsolete mills and factories
2 : no longer used by anyone an obsolete word

Full Definition of obsolete

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1a : no longer in use or no longer useful an obsolete word
b : of a kind or style no longer current : old-fashioned an obsolete technology farming methods that are now obsolete
2 of a plant or animal part : indistinct or imperfect as compared with a corresponding part in related organisms : vestigial


ob·​so·​lete | \ ˌäb-sə-ˈlēt How to pronounce obsolete (audio) , ˈäb-sə-ˌlēt \
obsoleted; obsoleting

Definition of obsolete (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

: to make (something) old-fashioned or no longer useful : make obsolete

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Other Words from obsolete


obsoletely adverb
obsoleteness noun

Choose the Right Synonym for obsolete


old, ancient, venerable, antique, antiquated, archaic, obsolete mean having come into existence or use in the more or less distant past. old may apply to either actual or merely relative length of existence. old houses an old sweater of mine ancient applies to occurrence, existence, or use in or survival from the distant past. ancient accounts of dragons venerable stresses the impressiveness and dignity of great age. the family's venerable patriarch antique applies to what has come down from a former or ancient time. collected antique Chippendale furniture antiquated implies being discredited or outmoded or otherwise inappropriate to the present time. antiquated teaching methods archaic implies having the character or characteristics of a much earlier time. the play used archaic language to convey a sense of period obsolete may apply to something regarded as no longer acceptable or useful even though it is still in existence. a computer that makes earlier models obsolete

Examples of obsolete in a Sentence

Adjective It may not be welcome news in her home state of Pennsylvania, but chemist Cynthia Kuper could help make steel obsolete. Experimenting with carbon nanotubes, structures a few atoms wide but 100 times stronger and much lighter than steel, Kuper calls her work an "amusement park discovery." — Joanna Chung, Newsweek, 23 Sept. 2002 He exercised a right so rare, at this the fag-end of the century, as to be practically obsolete. The most fundamental right of all. The right to be the good guy. — Zadie Smith, White Teeth, 2000 I never had parents, really. My mom was gone, my dad was at work or with his girlfriends, we had baby-sitters. My parents were obsolete. — Jonathan Kozol, Voices From the Future, 1993 The system was made obsolete by their invention. I was told my old printer is obsolete and I can't get replacement parts. Verb While many … do describe various small, quick-loading 35mm film cartridges, modern technology has obsoleted these. — Herbert Keppler, Popular Photography, November 1993 … older cpu's whose speed and efficiency never were fully tapped before they were effectively obsoleted by their manufacturers … — Edith Myers, Datamation, November 1977 For radio itself deliberately obsoletes today what it built yesterday. — David Sarnoff, Television, 1936
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Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective In response to the Panama Papers, many countries took measures that made some of the techniques exposed in the Panama Papers obsolete. Beverly Moran, The Conversation, 5 Oct. 2021 Since 2015, it's has been owned by La Maddalena's National Park, rendering Morandi's caretaker role obsolete. Silvia Marchetti, CNN, 25 Sep. 2021 Oklahoma kicker Gabe Brkic has quite the leg and has shown the ability to render an opposing team’s kick returner obsolete by simply booting the ball out of the back of the end zone. Scott Bell, Dallas News, 22 Sep. 2021 But over the past several years, a shift to cloud computing has rendered the perimeter and the reliance on corporate networks obsolete. New York Times, 26 July 2021 This reality is largely lost on academic observers, who tend to assume that some combination of smart weapons, unmanned aircraft and digital networks will eventually render all heavy armor obsolete. Loren Thompson, Forbes, 18 June 2021 These troublesome variants have yet to render any of our current vaccines obsolete. Katherine J. Wu, The Atlantic, 19 Mar. 2021 After roughly 20-30 years, degradation coupled with leaps in technology render old nuclear subs obsolete. Cory Graff, Popular Mechanics, 17 Jan. 2021 In 2019, Musk moved all car sales online, making the need for dealerships obsolete. Jay Heflin, Washington Examiner, 13 Dec. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb With a mission to obsolete the use of bullets, reduce social conflict, and assist the judicial system, the company’s products have been observing heightened demand even during the pandemic. Trefis Team, Forbes, 21 Sep. 2021 Issuing passwords is simple, low-cost and can obsolete several pages from the cyber criminal's playbook. Rob Cheng, Forbes, 6 Apr. 2021 Why would SpaceX want to obsolete its own, dominant products? Eric Berger, Ars Technica, 3 May 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'obsolete.' 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 obsolete


1579, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


1640, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for obsolete

Adjective and Verb

Latin obsoletus, from past participle of obsolescere to grow old, become disused, perhaps from ob- toward + solēre to be accustomed

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Time Traveler for obsolete

Time Traveler

The first known use of obsolete was in 1579

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Last Updated

15 Oct 2021

Cite this Entry

“Obsolete.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/obsolete. Accessed 23 Oct. 2021.

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More Definitions for obsolete


ob·​so·​lete | \ ˌäb-sə-ˈlēt How to pronounce obsolete (audio) \

Kids Definition of obsolete

: no longer in use : out-of-date The machinery is now obsolete.


ob·​so·​lete | \ ˌäb-sə-ˈlēt, ˈäb-sə-ˌ How to pronounce obsolete (audio) \

Medical Definition of obsolete

: no longer active or distinct obsolete cases of infection obsolete pulmonary lesions

More from Merriam-Webster on obsolete

Nglish: Translation of obsolete for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of obsolete for Arabic Speakers


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