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obstacle

[ob-stuh-kuh l]
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noun
  1. something that obstructs or hinders progress.
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Origin of obstacle

1300–50; Middle English < Old French < Latin obstāculum, equivalent to obstā(re) to face, block, hinder (ob- ob- + stāre to stand) + -culum -cle2

Synonyms

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Obstacle, obstruction, hindrance, impediment refer to something that interferes with or prevents action or progress. An obstacle is something, material or nonmaterial, that stands in the way of literal or figurative progress: Lack of imagination is an obstacle to one's advancement. An obstruction is something that more or less completely blocks a passage: A blood clot is an obstruction to the circulation. A hindrance keeps back by interfering and delaying: Interruptions are a hindrance to one's work. An impediment interferes with proper functioning: an impediment in one's speech.

Antonyms

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Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for obstacle

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • He made a brief gesture, like one wiping an obstacle out of the way.

  • That was the entering wedge—the mention of an obstacle to overcome.

    It Happened in Egypt

    C. N. Williamson

  • It has been raised from the rank of a fiction to the dignity of an obstacle.

    Alarms and Discursions

    G. K. Chesterton

  • I had to be dragged away, but I am soon myself again when confronted by an obstacle.

    My Double Life

    Sarah Bernhardt

  • After overcoming every obstacle, he had the satisfaction of reaping the reward of his enterprise.

    Self-Help

    Samuel Smiles


British Dictionary definitions for obstacle

obstacle

noun
  1. a person or thing that opposes or hinders something
  2. British a fence or hedge used in showjumping
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Word Origin

C14: via Old French from Latin obstāculum, from obstāre, from ob- against + stāre to stand
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for obstacle

n.

mid-14c., from Old French obstacle, ostacle "opposition, obstruction, hindrance" (13c.) or directly from Latin obstaculum "a hindrance, obstacle," with instrumental suffix *-tlom + obstare "stand before, stand opposite to, block, hinder, thwart," from ob "against" (see ob-) + stare "to stand," from PIE root *sta- "to stand" (see stet).

The lover thinks more often of reaching his mistress than the husband of guarding his wife; the prisoner thinks more often of escaping than the gaoler of shutting his door; and so, whatever the obstacles may be, the lover and the prisoner ought to succeed. [Stendhal, "Charterhouse of Parma"]

Obstacle course is attested from 1891.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper