June 09, 2015
obtain • \ub-TAYN\ • verb
1 : to gain or attain usually by planned action or effort
2 : to be generally recognized or established : prevail
“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 and obtain acoustic entertainment licenses….” — Steve Annear, BostonGlobe, 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.