obtain

verb
ob·​tain | \ əb-ˈtān How to pronounce obtain (audio) , äb- \
obtained; obtaining; obtains

Definition of obtain

transitive verb

: to gain or attain usually by planned action or effort The information was difficult to obtain. We obtained a copy of the original letter.

intransitive verb

1 : to be generally recognized or established : prevail Those ideas no longer obtain for our generation. a greater degree of free expression than usually obtains in film production— Roger Manvell
2 archaic : succeed

Other Words from obtain

obtainability \ əb-​ˌtā-​nə-​ˈbi-​lə-​tē How to pronounce obtain (audio) , äb-​ \ noun
obtainable \ əb-​ˈtā-​nə-​bəl How to pronounce obtain (audio) , äb-​ \ adjective
obtainer noun
obtainment \ əb-​ˈtān-​mənt How to pronounce obtain (audio) , äb-​ \ noun

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 hold on to, possess." 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.

Examples of obtain in a Sentence

The information may be difficult to obtain. We obtained a copy of the original letter. These ideas no longer obtain for our generation.
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Recent Examples on the Web Consumers with private insurance will be able to obtain the tests without any cost sharing such as deductibles, coinsurance or copayments, according to the new policy. Stephanie Armour, WSJ, 10 Jan. 2022 Researchers with the National Institutes of Health’s RADx program were able to obtain samples of the Omicron variant that were inactivated by heat. Matthew Herper, STAT, 9 Jan. 2022 Despite the exemption, IndyStar was able to obtain compensation information for some county hospital executives. Tony Cook, The Indianapolis Star, 8 Jan. 2022 Once available, shareholders of Magnum Opus will also be able to obtain a copy of the proxy statements and other documents filed with the SEC without charge, by directing a request to: Unit 1009, ICBC Tower, Three Garden Road, Central, Hong Kong. Forbes Press Releases, Forbes, 5 Jan. 2022 Police, however, were able to obtain the car’s license plate number and make contact with the car’s owner, the suspect’s mother. cleveland, 29 Dec. 2021 Residents will be able to obtain two kits, or four tests, per day, at those locations. From Usa Today Network And Wire Reports, USA TODAY, 28 Dec. 2021 Police observed handprints left behind on the arm of one of the students, who had run away and reported the crime to school staff, and were later able to obtain a photo of Marriro and identify him as the suspect, prosecutors said. Andrew Brinker, BostonGlobe.com, 24 Dec. 2021 Tavares said 37 million more consumers are now able to obtain credit scores using the latest scoring model from VantageScore. Susan Tompor, Detroit Free Press, 17 Dec. 2021

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

15th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense

History and Etymology for obtain

Middle English obteinen, from Anglo-French & Latin; Anglo-French obtenir, from Latin obtinēre to hold on to, possess, obtain, from ob- in the way + tenēre to hold — more at thin

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Time Traveler for obtain

Time Traveler

The first known use of obtain was in the 15th century

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Dictionary Entries Near obtain

obt

obtain

obtainal

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Last Updated

13 Jan 2022

Cite this Entry

“Obtain.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/obtain. Accessed 19 Jan. 2022.

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More Definitions for obtain

obtain

verb

English Language Learners Definition of obtain

: to gain or get (something) usually by effort
: to continue to be accepted or in use

obtain

verb
ob·​tain | \ əb-ˈtān How to pronounce obtain (audio) \
obtained; obtaining

Kids Definition of obtain

: to gain or get hold of with effort She was able to obtain a ticket to the show. We obtained permission to enter.

More from Merriam-Webster on obtain

Nglish: Translation of obtain for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of obtain for Arabic Speakers

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