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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Community Comment

A Word A Day — obviate

Good afternoon Netizens...

March 30, 2013

Word of the Day

  • obviate
  • audio pronunciation
  • \AHB-vee-ayt\


: to anticipate and prevent (as a situation) or make unnecessary (as an action)

Rob checks every ledger entry twice to obviate any problems when it comes time for an audit.

"Some TVs come equipped with … technology that manufacturers incorporated to obviate the need for supplementary cable boxes." — From an article by Mike Rogoway in The Oregonian, January 13, 2013


"Obviate" derives from Late Latin "obviare" (meaning "to meet or withstand") and Latin "obviam," which means "in the way" and is also an ancestor of our adjective "obvious." "Obviate" has a number of synonyms in English, including "prevent," "preclude," and "avert"; all of these words can mean to hinder or stop something. When you prevent or preclude something, you put up an insurmountable obstacle. In addition, "preclude" often implies that a degree of chance was involved in stopping an event. "Obviate" generally suggests the use of intelligence or forethought to ward off trouble. "Avert" always implies that a bad situation has been anticipated and prevented or deflected by the application of immediate and effective means.

From Merriam-Webster Online at



Spokesman-Review readers blog about news and issues in Spokane written by Dave Laird.