“Given the pace of today’s technological developments, it’s hard for any device to escape obsolescence for long.”

What is the best definition of obsolescence?

Check your answer!

Choice A - Being in trend or widely used
Choice B - The condition of outdatedness
Choice C - The process of being upgraded
Choice D - The state of being cutting edge


Obsolescence (noun) – the condition or process of falling into disuse or becoming out of date: outdatedness

Obsolesce (verb) – to make or become obsolete: discontinue or retire

Obsolete (adjective) – no longer in use: outdated or extinct

GRE pro tips:

Even if you don’t recognize the term obsolescence, you probably do know the word obsolete, meaning “no longer produced or used,” or, in other words, out of date. So, you can probably figure out that obsolescence refers to the condition or process of falling into disuse or becoming outdated, or obsolete. It is often used in reference to technology: hand-held cameras, for instance, are falling into obsolescence – or outmodedness – since they are readily available on most cell phones. And, once useful calculation tools, such as slide rules and the abacus, have long since obsolesced, or become useless or outdated.

Maybe you learned about planned obsolescence in a business or economics class. The term refers to the practice of making or designing things (such as cars or iPhones) that ensures they will only be usable, or in-fashion, for a short time. This way, consumers will have to update, or buy a new version. In an era when people replace rather than repair things, you can see how profitable built-in obsolescence can be.

Example sentences:

“It was the mission of the film society’s archivist to rescue well-known historic American films from obsolescence.”

“Consumerism and ‘planned obsolescence’ go hand-in-hand: if people weren’t consistently purchasing updated versions of everything from household appliances to laptops, then manufacturers might not create products with obsolescence built-in.”   

“Why does it feel like my iPhone always obsolesces well before I’ve even paid it off?”