Build your vocabulary with Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day! Each day a Merriam-Webster editor offers insight into a fascinating new word -- explaining its meaning, current use, and little-known details about its origin.
June 9th, 2015
Episode 221 of 758 episodes
Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for June 09, 2015 is: obtain \ub-TAYN\ verb 1 : to gain or attain usually by planned action or effort 2 : to be generally recognized or established : prevail Examples: The experiment was designed to obtain more accurate data about weather patterns. "Business owners and musical acts that want to participate in the series can sign up online and skip the trip to City Hall to pay fees andobtainacoustic entertainment licenses." Steve Annear, Boston Globe, April 28, 2015 Did you know? Obtain, which was adopted into English in the 15th century, comes to us via Anglo-French from the Latin obtinēre, meaning "to take hold of." Obtinēre was itself formed by the combination of ob-, meaning "in the way," and the verb tenēre, meaning "to hold." In its earliest uses, obtain often implied a conquest or a successful victory in battle, but it is now used for any attainment through planned action or effort. The verb tenēre has incontestably prevailed in the English language, providing us with such common words as abstain, contain, detain, sustain, and, perhaps less obviously, the adjectives tenable and tenacious.