[ uhb-teyn ]
See synonyms for: obtainobtainedobtainingobtainable on Thesaurus.com

verb (used with object)
  1. 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.

  2. Obsolete. to attain or reach.

verb (used without object)
  1. to be prevalent, customary, or in vogue; prevail: the morals that obtained in Rome.

  2. Archaic. to succeed.

Origin of obtain

First recorded in 1375–1425; late Middle English obteinen, from Middle French obtenir, from Latin obtinēre “to take hold of,” equivalent to ob- ob- + -tinēre, combining form of tenēre “to hold”

synonym study For obtain

1. See get.

Other words for obtain

Opposites for obtain

Other words from obtain

  • ob·tain·a·ble, adjective
  • ob·tain·a·bil·i·ty, noun
  • ob·tain·er, noun
  • ob·tain·ment, noun
  • pre·ob·tain, verb (used with object)
  • pre·ob·tain·a·ble, adjective
  • re·ob·tain, verb (used with object)
  • re·ob·tain·a·ble, adjective
  • un·ob·tain·a·ble, adjective
  • un·ob·tained, adjective

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use obtain in a sentence

  • There is a prolific myth in the United States which asserts that illegal firearms are easily obtainable.

  • Whisky is scarce in that country, but it is obtainable, and Grenfell generally procured a good deal of it.

    The Gold Trail | Harold Bindloss
  • Every sort of necessary provision is obtainable both at Havelock and Picton, at the heads of the respective sounds.

    Yachting Vol. 2 | Various.
  • Proteins of all our common foods are now obtainable in the drug trade put up in tiny capsules ready for the test.

    The Treatment of Hay Fever | George Frederick Laidlaw
  • Make a small horseshoe magnet from a piece of the very best steel obtainable, and magnetize it to as high a strength as possible.

  • Food was very plentiful on this island, roots and yams being obtainable in great abundance.

British Dictionary definitions for obtain


/ (əbˈteɪn) /

  1. (tr) to gain possession of; acquire; get

  2. (intr) to be customary, valid, or accepted: a new law obtains in this case

  1. (tr) archaic to arrive at

  2. (intr) archaic to win a victory; succeed

Origin of obtain

C15: via Old French from Latin obtinēre to take hold of, from ob- (intensive) + tenēre to hold

Derived forms of obtain

  • obtainable, adjective
  • obtainability, noun
  • obtainer, noun
  • obtainment, noun

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