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From Latin obviāre (to block, to hinder).



obviate (third-person singular simple present obviates, present participle obviating, simple past and past participle obviated)

  1. (transitive) To anticipate and prevent or bypass (something which would otherwise have been necessary or required).
    • 1814 July, [Jane Austen], chapter XXVI, in Mansfield Park: [], volumes (please specify |volume=I to III), London: [] T[homas] Egerton, [], →OCLC:
      [] and in the kindest manner she now urged Fanny’s taking one for the cross and to keep for her sake, saying everything she could think of to obviate the scruples which were making Fanny start back at first with a look of horror at the proposal.
    • 1886 May – 1887 April, Thomas Hardy, chapter III, in The Woodlanders [], volumes (please specify |volume=I to III), London, New York, N.Y.: Macmillan and Co., published 1887, →OCLC:
      The door it was necessary to keep ajar in hers, as in most cottages, because of the smoke; but she obviated the effect of the ribbon of light through the chink by hanging a cloth over that also.
  2. (transitive) To avoid (a future problem or difficult situation).
    • 1826, Richard Reece, A Practical Dissertation on the Means of Obviating & Treating the Varieties of Costiveness, page 181:
      A mild dose of a warm active aperient to obviate costiveness, or to produce two motions daily, is generally very beneficial.
    • 1842, Gibbons Merle, John Reitch, The Domestic Dictionary and Housekeeper’s Manual: Comprising Everything Related to Cookery, Diet, Economy and Medicine. By Gibbons Merle. The Medical Portion of the Work by John Reitch, M.D., London: William Strange, 21, Paternoster Row, →OCLC, page 360, column 2:
      If the predisposition to the disease has arisen from a plethoric state of the system, or from a turgescence in the vessels of the head, this is to be obviated by bleeding, both generally and topically, but more particularly the latter; an abstemious diet and proper exercise; and by a seton in the neck.
    • 2004, David J. Anderson, Agile Management for Software Engineering, page 180:
      Some change requests, rather than extend the scope, obviate some of the existing scope of a project.
    • 2008, William S. Kroger, Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis: In Medicine, Dentistry, and Psychology, page 163:
      Thus, to obviate resistance, the discussion should be relevant to the patient′s problems.
    • 2019 February 21, Gary Younge, “Shamima Begum has a right to British citizenship, whether you like it or not”, in The Guardian[1]:
      A government that thinks it can take on the world with Brexit can’t take back a bereaved teenaged mother with fundamentalist delusions. Moreover, the risk does not obviate two crucial facts in this case. First and foremost, she is a citizen [] Second, when Begum went to Syria she was a child.

Usage notes[edit]

  • Garner's Modern American Usage (2009) notes that phrases like obviate the necessity or obviate the need are sometimes considered redundant, but "these phrases are not redundancies, for the true sense of obviate the necessity is 'to prevent the necessity (from arising),' hence to make unnecessary."



obviate (plural obviates)

  1. (linguistics) Synonym of obviative


obviate (not comparable)

  1. (linguistics) Synonym of obviative
    • 1995, Michael Darnell, “Preverbal nominals in Colville-Okanagan”, in Pamela Downing, Michael P. Noonan, editors, Word Order in Discourse, page 91:
      Colville has a rich deictic system with forms which distinguish, for example, between source and location, with each possibility characterized as proximate and obviate as well (Mattina, 1973).
    • 1999, Edgar C. Polomé, Carol F. Justus, Winfred Philipp Lehmann, Language Change and Typological Variation: Language change and phonology, page 115:
      The renovated system involved an obviate-proximate pronominal alternation (yu- vs. mu- respectively in Tolowa; see Bommelyn 1997), with the pronouns coming most likely out of the deictic pronoun system.
    • 2009, Nikolas Coupland, Adam Jaworski, Sociolinguistics: The sociolinguistics of culture, page 410:
      This use of the obviate deictic category—that, there, those—contrasts sharply with the use of the proximate in the body of the narrative— this, here, these.





  1. second-person plural present active imperative of obviō




  1. second-person singular voseo imperative of obviar combined with te