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Supposedly vs. Supposably


[uh b-teyn] /əbˈteɪn/
verb (used with object)
to come into possession of; get, acquire, or procure, as through an effort or by a request:
to obtain permission; to obtain a better income.
Obsolete. to attain or reach.
verb (used without object)
to be prevalent, customary, or in vogue; prevail:
the morals that obtained in Rome.
Archaic. to succeed.
Origin of obtain
late Middle English
1375-1425; late Middle English obteinen < Middle French obtenir < Latin obtinēre to take hold of, equivalent to ob- ob- + -tinēre (combining form of tenēre to hold)
Related forms
obtainable, adjective
obtainability, noun
obtainer, noun
obtainment, noun
preobtain, verb (used with object)
preobtainable, adjective
reobtain, verb (used with object)
reobtainable, adjective
unobtainable, adjective
unobtained, adjective
1. gain, achieve, earn, win, attain. See get.
1. lose, forgo. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for unobtained
Historical Examples
  • And she began already to be envious of Louise's unobtained maid.

    The Eddy Clarence L. Cullen
  • Said Arthur, “Is there any one of the marvels yet unobtained?”

    The Mabinogion Lady Charlotte Guest
  • That episode flitted by, leaving on memory's camera only the degrading tableau of coin burrowed for and unobtained.

    The Pace That Kills Edgar Saltus
British Dictionary definitions for unobtained


(transitive) to gain possession of; acquire; get
(intransitive) to be customary, valid, or accepted: a new law obtains in this case
(transitive) (archaic) to arrive at
(intransitive) (archaic) to win a victory; succeed
Derived Forms
obtainable, adjective
obtainability, noun
obtainer, noun
obtainment, noun
Word Origin
C15: via Old French from Latin obtinēre to take hold of, from ob- (intensive) + tenēre to hold
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for unobtained



early 15c., from Middle French obtenir "acquire, obtain" (14c.), from Latin obtinere "hold, hold fast, take hold of, get possession of, acquire," from ob "to" (though perhaps intensive in this case; see ob-) + tenere "to hold" (see tenet). Related: Obtained; obtaining.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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