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Obtain is sometimes a misspelling of obtained.

The word obtain and its family (obtainable, obtained, obtaining, obtains, unobtainable) are included in the Academic Word List by Dr. Averil Coxhead, which contains the 570 most frequent word families used in academic texts from a variety of subject areas, of interest for students that learn the words most needed to study at tertiary institutions.

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Definition of the verb obtain

What does obtain mean as a doing word?

Obtain is one of the top 1000 most common verbs in the English language.

verb - inflections: obtained | obtaining | obtains

  1. come into possession of
    • example: How did you obtain the visa?
    • syntax:
      Syntactic formulaExample for the syntactic formula
      [Agent - being or organization] [Verb] [Theme]Carmen obtained the spare part
      [Agent - being or organization] [Verb] [Theme] for [Asset]Carmen purchased a dress for $50
      [Agent - being or organization] [Verb] [Theme] from [Source]Carmen obtained the spare part from Diana
      [Asset - currency] [Verb] [Theme]$50 won't even buy a dress | $50 won't even purchase a dress

      Verbs of Change of Possession (with the same syntax): acquire, purchase.

    • lexical domain: Possession - verbs of buying, selling, owning
    • more generic words: acquire / get = come into the possession of something concrete or abstract
    • more specific terms:
  2. receive a specified treatment (abstract)
    • lexical domain: Change - verbs of size, temperature change, intensifying, etc.
    • synonyms of obtain: find / get / incur / receive
    • more generic word: change = undergo a change; become different in essence
    • more specific word: take = ascertain or determine by measuring, computing or take a reading from a dial
  3. be valid, applicable, or true
    • lexical domain: Stative - verbs of being, having, spatial relations
    • synonyms of obtain: hold / prevail
    • more generic words: be / exist = have an existence, be extant

Alternative definition of the verb obtain


  1. [transitive] To get hold of; to gain possession of, to procure; to acquire, in any way. [definition from 15th c.]
  2. [intransitive, obsolete] To secure (that) a specific objective or state of affairs be reached. [definition 15th-19th c.]
  3. [intransitive, obsolete] To prevail, be victorious; to succeed. [definition 15th-19th c.]
  4. [transitive, obsolete] To hold; to keep, possess or occupy. [definition 15th-18th c.]
  5. [intransitive] To exist or be the case; to hold true, be in force. [definition from 17th c.]

Printed encyclopedias and other books with definitions for obtain

Click on a title to look inside that book (if available):

Google previewModern Truths (2014)

by Ekacco Bhikkhu

Difficult to obtain is the arising of a Buddha in the world (Buddhuppādo lokasmiṃ) . 2) Dullabho manussattapaṭilābho. Difficult to obtain is aquisition of the human state (manussatta). 3) Dullabhā saddhāsampatti. Difficult to obtain is the ...

Google previewThe British Navy (2010)

Its Strength, Resources, and Administration by Thomas Brassey

Some consideration of the subject soon convinced us that the attainment of absolute safety for our seaboard was out of the question ; all we could hope for was to obtain means to disturb, to interrupt, perhaps to render nugatory, any large ...

Google previewReport of the ... National Conference on Weights and Measures (1928)

by National Conference on Weights and Measures, United States. Bureau of Standards, National Institute of Standards and Technology (U.S.)

The quality of performance that we hope to obtain is that which will enable us to weigh any load within the capacity correctly within better than 1 or 2 pounds, and to secure repetition within a tenth of a pound ...

Google previewTrustworthy Global Computing (2005)

International Symposium, TGC 2005, Edinburgh, UK, April 7-9, 2005. Revised Selected Papers by Rocco De Nicola, Davide Sangiorgi

The effect we want to obtain is that the action needed to solve variable x is triggered (x is replaced by its definition if it is either local or virtual, and the innermost module operator in R is performed if x is deferred). For sake of brevity, we write ...

Google previewSelf-Mastery (the Way of the Heaven Born) (2006)

the way of the heaven born by W. George Bryant Phd

“Difficult to obtain is the conception of men, difficult is the life of mortals, difficult is the hearing of the True (Eternal) Law, difficult is the birth of the Awakened (the attainment of Buddahood). “Not to commit any sin, to do good, and to purify one's ...

Google previewEncyclopedia of Chemical Processing and Design (1981)

Volume 12 - Corrosion to Cottonseed by John J. McKetta Jr

Polarization Behavior It is absolutely necessary to obtain an anodic polarization curve for the solution -metal system before using anodic protection. The curve must be of the type shown in Fig. 13 or it will be impossible to achieve protection.

Google previewEncyclopedia of Forms and Precedents for Pleading and Practice (1899)

At Common Law, in Equity, and Under the Various Codes and Practice Acts by William Henry Michael, William Mack, Howard Pervear Nash, James Cockroft, Thomas Edward O'Brien

did unlawfully and feloniously obtain from the National Life Insurance Company, a corporation incorporated under the laws of Vermont, the sum of two t /cousand dollars on a policy of life insurance, issued on the life of one [tic/lard Roe ...

Google previewEncyclopedia of Forensic Sciences (2012)

Obtain 10 ml clean arterial blood. 2. Obtain 10 ml bladder urine. Packaging: Plain glass phials without anticoagulant or preservative. Significance: Indicates if the decadent was under the influence of drugs at the time of death, is a chronic drug ...

Google previewEncyclopedia of Counseling (2008)

by Frederick T. Leong

An individual can use the Internet to locate a counselor, to gain information about psychological conditions and treatments, to obtain counseling, and to share with others in chat rooms or online support groups. In addition to facilitating the ...

Online dictionaries and encyclopedias with entries for obtain

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Usage statistics about obtain

The following statistics are based on the British National Corpus, so they are representative for the British English from the later part of the 20th century, both spoken and written.

Distribution of usage frequency for the most common synonyms of the verb obtain:


Photos about obtain

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Obtain girls panties (1/2) (shocker)

Photo credit: Matt McCullough

If you need related images for an article or a report, you can download stock photos:
Small photo of Conceptual hand writing showing Internship. Business photo text Student or trainee who works in a company to obtain experience written on Cardboard Piece placed on the Hand on plain background.Small photo of Grinding a lemon on a grater to obtain a peelSmall photo of different color of ears of rye in the field during summer summer, the details of plants used to obtain foodSmall photo of Conceptual hand writing showing Think Win-Win. Business photo showcasing Negotiation strategy for both partners to obtain benefits written on Sticky note paper on wooden background Marker.Small photo of Look up view from roman yellow buildings in a sunny day. On the facade of the building: "placed so that the world might obtain government"Small photo of Young yoga teacher doing his practice. Handsome guy, fitness instructor on a purple mat and on a white background. Great asana requiring professional skills and concentration to obtain balance.Small photo of Abandoned houses of a street deserted in the saltpeter Humberstone, old ghost town used to obtain infinite products derived from saltpeter, Atacama desert, northern Chile More...

Video language resources about obtain

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Quotes about obtain

Everyone needs a certain amount of money. Beyond that, we pursue money because we know how to obtain it. We don't necessarily know how to obtain happiness. (Gregg Easterbrook)
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Scrabble value of O1B3T1A1I1N1

The value of this 6-letter word is 8 points. It is included in the first and second editions of the Official Scrabble Players Dictionary.

Anagrams of OBTAIN

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