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Webster 1913 Edition


Obtain

Ob-tain′

,
Verb.
T.
[
imp. & p. p.
Obtained
;
p. pr. & vb. n.
Obtaining
.]
[F.
obtenir
, L.
obtinere
;
ob
(see
Ob-
) +
tenere
to hold. See
Tenable
.]
1.
To hold; to keep; to possess.
[Obs.]
His mother, then, is mortal, but his Sire
He who
obtains
the monarchy of heaven.
Milton.
2.
To get hold of by effort; to gain possession of; to procure; to acquire, in any way.
Some pray for riches; riches they
obtain
.
Dryden.
By guileful fair words peace may be
obtained
.
Shakespeare
It may be that I may
obtain
children by her.
Gen. xvi. 2.
Syn. – To attain; gain; procure; acquire; win; earn.
See
Attain
. – To
Obtain
,
Get
,
Gain
,
Earn
,
Acquire
. The idea of getting is common to all these terms. We may, indeed, with only a slight change of sense, substitute get for either of them; as, to get or to gain a prize; to get or to obtain an employment; to get or to earn a living; to get or to acquire a language. To gain is to get by striving; and as this is often a part of our good fortune, the word gain is peculiarly applicable to whatever comes to us fortuitously. Thus, we gain a victory, we gain a cause, we gain an advantage, etc. To earn is to deserve by labor or service; as, to earn good wages; to earn a triumph. Unfortunately, one does not always get or obtain what he has earned. To obtain implies desire for possession, and some effort directed to the attainment of that which is not immediately within our reach. Whatever we thus seek and get, we obtain, whether by our own exertions or those of others; whether by good or bad means; whether permanently, or only for a time. Thus, a man obtains an employment; he obtains an answer to a letter, etc. To acquire is more limited and specific. We acquire what comes to us gradually in the regular exercise of our abilities, while we obtain what comes in any way, provided we desire it. Thus, we acquire knowledge, property, honor, reputation, etc. What we acquire becomes, to a great extent, permanently our own; as, to acquire a language; to acquire habits of industry, etc.

Ob-tain′

,
Verb.
I.
1.
To gain or have a firm footing; to be recognized or established; to become prevalent or general; to prevail;
as, the custom
obtains
of going to the seashore in summer
.
Sobriety hath by use
obtained
to signify temperance in drinking.
Jer. Taylor.
The Theodosian code, several hundred years after Justinian’s time, did
obtain
in the western parts of Europe.
Baker.
2.
To prevail; to succeed.
[archaic and Rare]
Evelyn.
So run that ye may
obtain
.
1 Cor. ix. 24.
There is due from the judge to the advocate, some commendation, where causes are fair pleaded; especially towards the side which
obtaineth
not.
Bacon.

Webster 1828 Edition


Obtain

OBTA'IN

,
Verb.
T.
[L. obtineo; ob and teneo, to hold.]
1.
To get; to gain; to procure; in a general sense, to gain possession of a thing, whether temporary or permanent; to acquiare. this word usually implies exertion to get possession, and in this it differs from receive, which may or may not imply exertion. it differs from acquire, as genus from species; acquire being properly applied only to things permanently possessed; but obtain is applied both to things of temporary and of permanent possession. We obtain loans of money on application; we obtain answers to letters; we obtain spirit from liquors by distillation and salts by evaporation. We obtain by seeking; we often receive without seeking. We acquire or obtain a good title to lands by deed, or by a judgment of court; but we do not acquire spirit by distillation; nor do we acquire an answer to a letter or an application.
He shall obtain the kingdom by flatteries. Dan. 11.
In whom we have obtained an inheritance. Eph. 1.
2.
To keep; to hold.

OBTA'IN

, v.i.
1.
To be received in customary or common use; to continue in use; to be established in practice.
The Theodosian code, several hundred years after Justinian's time, obtained in the western parts of the empire.
2.
To be established; to subsist in nature.
The general laws of fluidity, elasticity and gravity, obtain in animal and inanimate tubes.
3.
To prevail; to succeed. [Little used.]

Definition 2022


obtain

obtain

English

Verb

obtain (third-person singular simple present obtains, present participle obtaining, simple past and past participle obtained)

  1. (transitive) To get hold of; to gain possession of, to procure; to acquire, in any way. [from 15th c.]
    • 1526, William Tyndale, trans. Bible, Luke XVIII:
      And a certayne ruler axed him: sayinge: Goode Master: what ought I to do, to obtaine eternall lyfe?
    • 1814, Jane Austen, Mansfield Park:
      Julia was quite as eager for novelty and pleasure as Maria, though she might not have struggled through so much to obtain them, and could better bear a subordinate situation.
    • 2013 June 21, Oliver Burkeman, The tao of tech”, in The Guardian Weekly, volume 189, number 2, page 48:
      But the real way to build a successful online business is to be better than your rivals at undermining people's control of their own attention. Partly, this is a result of how online advertising has traditionally worked: advertisers pay for clicks, and a click is a click, however it's obtained.
  2. (intransitive, obsolete) To secure (that) a specific objective or state of affairs be reached. [15th–19th c.]
    • 1722, Daniel Defoe, Colonel Jack:
      he was condemned to die for the felony, and being so well known for an old offender, had certainly died, but the merchant, upon his earnest application, had obtained that he should be transported, on condition that he restored all the rest of his bills, which he had done accordingly.
  3. (intransitive, obsolete) To prevail, be victorious; to succeed. [15th–19th c.]
    • 1590, Edmund Spenser, The Faerie Queene, III.2:
      “O daughter deare!” (said she) “despeire no whit; / For never sore but might a salve obtain [...].”
    • 1701, Jonathan Swift, Contests and Dissentions in Athens and Rome:
      This, though it failed at present, yet afterward obtained, and was a mighty step to the ruin of the commonwealth.
  4. (transitive, obsolete) To hold; to keep, possess or occupy. [15th–18th c.]
    • 1671, John Milton, Paradise Regained, Book I:
      His mother then is mortal, but his Sire / He who obtains the monarchy of Heav'n, / And what will he not do to advance his Son?
  5. (intransitive) To exist or be the case; to hold true, be in force. [from 17th c.]
    • 1908, Jack London, The Iron Heel, ChapterXVII,
      Even though the Pervaise confession had never come to light, no reasonable doubt could obtain; for the act in question [] was on a par with countless other acts committed by the oligarchs, and, before them, by the capitalists.
    • 1992, Neal Stephenson, Snow Crash, Bantam Spectra, p. 460,
      But the hostage situation no longer obtains, and so Uncle Enzo feels it important to stop Rife now, []

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