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"Does not obtain" ?

Hello wordsmiths
This is my first forum submission - unexpected that the OED had no answer.

I understand that, "That does not obtain" means that what might have been expected to arise is not possible. However, when that phrase is entered into the search box of the English OED, only other "not" phrases are offered in response. Any advice will be appreciated.


  • @Lojong, the OED gives this as one of the senses of obtain.
    (There are over a dozen senses, most of them rare or obsolete.)

    7b. intransitive. To be prevalent, customary, or established; to be in force or in vogue; to hold good; to subsist or exist; to be the case.

    The Oxford Dictionary Online on this website gives this as one eof two senses

    2 formal no object Be prevalent, customary, or established.
    ‘the price of silver fell to that obtaining elsewhere in the ancient world’

    • Click on the link to the dictionary (White on blue in the top left-hand corner)
    • Look up obtain
    • Click on +More example sentence to see how the word is used.

    I'd say the colloquial equivalent of That does not obtain would be
    That's not how it is
    It isn't like that

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