from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • transitive v. To succeed in gaining possession of as the result of planning or endeavor; acquire.
  • intransitive v. To be established, accepted, or customary: "standards, proprieties that no longer obtain” ( Meg Greenfield).
  • intransitive v. Archaic To succeed.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • intransitive v. To gain or have a firm footing; to be recognized or established; to become prevalent or general; to prevail.
  • intransitive v. To prevail; to succeed.
  • transitive v. To hold; to keep; to possess.
  • transitive v. To get hold of by effort; to gain possession of; to procure; to acquire, in any way.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To get; procure; secure; acquire; gain: as, to obtain a month's leave of absence; to obtain riches.
  • To attain; reach; arrive at.
  • To attain or reach by endeavor; succeed in (reaching, receiving, or doing something); manage.
  • Hence To achieve; win.
  • To hold; keep; maintain possession of.
  • Synonyms Attain, Obtain, Procure. See attain.
  • To secure what one desires or strives for; prevail; succeed.
  • To be common or customary; prevail or be established in practice; be in vogue; hold good; subsist; prevail: as, the custom still obtains in some country districts.
  • To attain; come.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • v. receive a specified treatment (abstract)
  • v. be valid, applicable, or true
  • v. come into possession of


from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

Middle English obteinen, from Old French obtenir, from Latin obtinēre : ob-, intensive pref.; see ob- + tenēre, to hold; see ten- in Indo-European roots.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Anglo-Norman obtenir, optiner et al., and Middle French obtenir, from Latin obtinēre ("to gain, achieve, succeed, possess"), from ob- + tenēre ("to hold").


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