[ob-suh-leet, ob-suh-leet]
  1. no longer in general use; fallen into disuse: an obsolete expression.
  2. of a discarded or outmoded type; out of date: an obsolete battleship.
  3. (of a linguistic form) no longer in use, especially, out of use for at least the past century.Compare archaic.
  4. effaced by wearing down or away.
  5. Biology. imperfectly developed or rudimentary in comparison with the corresponding character in other individuals, as of the opposite sex or of a related species.
verb (used with object), ob·so·let·ed, ob·so·let·ing.
  1. to make obsolete by replacing with something newer or better; antiquate: Automation has obsoleted many factory workers.

Origin of obsolete

1570–80; < Latin obsolētus, past participle of obsolēscere to fall into disuse, perhaps equivalent to ob- ob- + sol(ēre) to be accustomed to + -ēscere -esce
Related formsob·so·lete·ly, adverbob·so·lete·ness, nounnon·ob·so·lete, adjectivesub·ob·so·lete, adjectivesub·ob·so·lete·ly, adverbsub·ob·so·lete·ness, nounun·ob·so·lete, adjective
Can be confusedarchaic obsolescent obsoleteobsolescent obsolete

Synonyms for obsolete

Antonyms for obsolete

1, 2. new, modern.

Usage note

Terms and definitions labeled Obsolete in this dictionary have not been in widespread use since the mid 1700s. Unlike some relatively familiar archaic words and phrases, like prithee and thou art, obsolete words and phrases are not easily understood by a modern reader, and obsolete senses of current terms, as found in definitions 13, 14, and 15 of nice, are even more difficult for a contemporary reader to recognize.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

British Dictionary definitions for non-obsolete


  1. out of use or practice; not current
  2. out of date; unfashionable or outmoded
  3. biology (of parts, organs, etc) vestigial; rudimentary
Derived Formsobsoletely, adverbobsoleteness, noun

Word Origin for obsolete

C16: from Latin obsolētus worn out, past participle of obsolēre (unattested), from ob- opposite to + solēre to be used


The word obsoleteness is hardly ever used, obsolescence standing as the noun form for both obsolete and obsolescent
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 non-obsolete



1570s, from Latin obsoletus "grown old, worn out," past participle of obsolescere "fall into disuse," probably from ob "away" (see ob-) + an expanded form of solere "to be used to, be accustomed" (see insolent).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper