early 15c., obteinen, "to get or acquire, inherit, gain, conquer," from Old French obtenir "acquire, obtain" (14c.) and directly from Latin obtinere "hold, hold fast, take hold of, get possession of, acquire," from ob "in front of" (though perhaps intensive in this case; see ob-) + tenere "to hold" (from PIE root *ten- "to stretch"). Intransitive sense of "be prevalent or customary, be established in practice" is from 1610s. Related: Obtained; obtaining.
updated on June 11, 2022