- to come into possession of; get, acquire, or procure, as through an effort or by a request: to obtain permission; to obtain a better income.
- Obsolete. to attain or reach.
- to be prevalent, customary, or in vogue; prevail: the morals that obtained in Rome.
- Archaic. to succeed.
Origin of obtain
1375–1425; late Middle English obteinen < Middle French obtenir < Latin obtinēre to take hold of, equivalent to ob- ob- + -tinēre (combining form of tenēre to hold)
SynonymsSee more synonyms for on Thesaurus.com
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018
Examples from the Web for obtain
In order to extend their legal residence in the United States, they had to obtain other visas.
Rebels in Africa trade in children to fund their conflicts and obtain child soldiers.
That McCulloch failed to obtain an indictment of Wilson means only one thing: He did not want to obtain an indictment.Prosecutor Used Grand Jury to Let Darren Wilson Walk
November 28, 2014
The investigation stems from Dec. 2013 charges that 25 Russian diplomats allegedly tried to obtain fraudulent Medicaid benefits.Obamacare Covers Foreign Diplomats
October 29, 2014
The interview then shifts to interrogation, which is a conversation intended to obtain inculpatory statements.The Myth of the Central Park Five
October 19, 2014
Is it likely that this same Alworthy could obtain me entrance there?
He was waiting to obtain the papacy, when he would deal better with the abuses.
I endeavoured to obtain sight of him, but he was so wrapped and clothed that I did not succeed.
Since then, he had striven to obtain another interview with his bride, but she had refused him.Within the Law
We should be sure to obtain a covered carriage at the station.The Roof of France
- (tr) to gain possession of; acquire; get
- (intr) to be customary, valid, or accepteda new law obtains in this case
- (tr) archaic to arrive at
- (intr) archaic to win a victory; succeed
C15: via Old French from Latin obtinēre to take hold of, from ob- (intensive) + tenēre to hold
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 obtain
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper