Etymology
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impediment (n.)

c. 1400, from Old French empedement or directly from Latin impedimentum "hindrance," from impedire "impede," literally "to shackle the feet," from assimilated form of in- "into, in" (from PIE root *en "in") + pes (genitive pedis) "foot," from PIE root *ped- "foot." Related: Impedimental.

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smoothly (adv.)

late 14c., smotheli, "in a smooth manner, blandly," from smooth (adj.) + -ly (2). Earlier was smetheli (c. 1200). The meaning "without impediment or complications" is from 1660s.

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stoppage (n.)

mid-15c., "deduction from payment," from stop (v.) + -age. From late 15c. as "impediment, hindrance, obstruction;" 1650s as "act of stopping."

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impedimenta (n.)

"traveling equipment," c. 1600, from Latin impedimenta "luggage, military baggage," literally "hindrances," on the notion of "that by which one is impeded;" plural of impedimentum "hindrance" (see impediment).

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encumbrance (n.)

c. 1300, "trouble, difficulty; ensnarement, temptation," from Old French encombrance "encumbrance, obstruction; calamity, trouble," from encombrer (see encumber). Meaning "that which encumbers, impediment, obstacle" is from late 14c. in English.

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impede (v.)

c. 1600, back-formation from impediment, or else from Latin impedire "impede, be in the way, hinder, detain," literally "to shackle the feet," from assimilated form of in- "into, in" (from PIE root *en "in") + pes (genitive pedis) "foot," from PIE root *ped- "foot." Related: Impeded; impedes; impeding; impedient.

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snag (v.)

"catch or be caught on an impediment" (intransitive), 1807, from snag (n.). Originally in American English, and often in reference to steamboats caught on branches and stumps lodged in riverbeds. Figurative use is by 1833. Of fabric, "to catch and tear on a projection," by 1854. The transitive meaning "catch, steal, pick up" is U.S. colloquial, attested from 1895. Related: Snagged; snagging.

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putative (adj.)

"supposed, reputed, commonly thought of or deemed," early 15c., from Late Latin putativus "supposed," from putat-, past-participle stem of Latin putare "to judge, suppose, believe, suspect," originally "to clean, trim, prune" (from PIE root *pau- (2) "to cut, strike, stamp"). At first especially in putative marriage, one which, though legally invalid due to an impediment, was contracted in good faith by at least one party. Related: Putatively.

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snag (n.)

1570s, "stump of a tree, branch," a word of Scandinavian origin; compare Old Norse snagi "clothes peg," snaga "a kind of ax," snag-hyrndr "snag-cornered, with sharp points." The connecting notion seems to be "sharp protuberance, projecting point."

The general meaning, in reference to any sharp or jagged projection is recorded from 1580s; especially "tree or part of a tree in water and partly near the surface, so as to be dangerous to navigation" (1807). The figurative meaning "hidden obstacle, unexpected impediment" is from 1829.

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obstacle (n.)

"a hindrance, obstruction, impediment, or barrier; that which opposes or stands in the way," mid-14c., from Old French obstacle, ostacle "opposition, obstruction, hindrance" (13c.) and directly from Latin obstaculum "a hindrance, obstacle," with instrumental suffix *-tlom + obstare "stand before, stand opposite to, block, hinder, thwart," from ob "in front of, against" (see ob-) + stare "to stand," from PIE root *sta- "to stand, make or be firm."

The lover thinks more often of reaching his mistress than the husband of guarding his wife; the prisoner thinks more often of escaping than the gaoler of shutting his door; and so, whatever the obstacles may be, the lover and the prisoner ought to succeed. [Stendhal, "Charterhouse of Parma"]

Obstacle course "race course in which natural or artificial obstacles must be overcome" is attested by 1891.

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