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).
  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 562334031, 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, 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 notesEdit

  • 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."






  1. second-person plural present active imperative of obviō