1610s, "to block or stop up with obstacles or impediments," a back-formation from obstruction or else from Latin obstructus, past participle of obstruere "build up, block, block up, build against, stop, bar, hinder," from ob "in front of, in the way of" (see ob-) + struere "to pile, build" (from PIE *streu-, extended form of root *stere- "to spread"). Figurative sense of "to hinder, impede, retard, delay" (justice, the law, etc.) is by 1640s. Related: Obstructed; obstructing.
updated on July 29, 2019