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obstacle

When the road is blocked ahead of you, that blockage is an obstacle that keeps you from getting where you want to go.

The Latin word that is the source of the word obstacle combines parts that mean "to stand in the way of," so an obstacle is something that stands against what you want to do. In a dramatic piece, the obstacle is the person or thing that keeps a character from achieving his or her goal. This creates the conflict in a play: since conflict is what drama is all about, the obstacle is the source of all drama.

Definitions of obstacle
  1. noun
    something immaterial that stands in the way and must be circumvented or surmounted
    “lack of imagination is an obstacle to one's advancement”
    “the poverty of a district is an obstacle to good education”
    synonyms: obstruction
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    barrier, roadblock
    any condition that makes it difficult to make progress or to achieve an objective
    hang-up, hitch, rub, snag
    an unforeseen obstacle
    hurdle
    an obstacle that you are expected to overcome
    stymie, stymy
    a thwarting and distressing situation
    ideological barrier
    a barrier to cooperation or interaction resulting from conflicting ideologies
    language barrier
    barrier to communication resulting from speaking different languages
    iron curtain
    any impenetrable barrier preventing the exchange of information or ideas
    type of:
    balk, baulk, check, deterrent, handicap, hinderance, hindrance, impediment
    something immaterial that interferes with or delays action or progress
  2. noun
    an obstruction that stands in the way (and must be removed or surmounted or circumvented)
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    hazard
    an obstacle on a golf course
    stumbling block
    any obstacle or impediment
    water jump
    a pool or stream in a steeplechase or similar contest
    bunker, sand trap, trap
    a hazard on a golf course
    water hazard
    hazard provided by ponds of water that the golfer must avoid
    type of:
    impediment, impedimenta, obstructer, obstruction, obstructor
    any structure that makes progress difficult
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