From the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary:

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The definition above said it is not obvious, but the example sentence used obvious pitfall, is it odd?

  • 3
    "the most obvious pitfalls" sounds OK to me in British English, but if you think it is an oxymoron you could say "the most common pitfalls".
    – alephzero
    Commented Mar 3, 2017 at 7:34

4 Answers 4


According to the Oxford Collocations Dictionary, "pitfall" can take any of the following adjectives:

  • obvious
  • common
  • hidden
  • possible
  • potential

Notice that the definition says that the danger or difficulty is usually not obvious at first, and the second example presents the need to rely on professional advice to avoid pitfalls which, even if obvious to experts, may not be so evident to the layman.

Here is the reference I mentioned above:


The definition also says especially one that is hidden or not obvious, the base meaning is still a danger or difficulty.

Obvious pitfall sounds natural enough to me.


Even though pitfalls are not obvious by nature, among such pitfalls they could be rated as more or less obvious.
In this sense, you can have most/more/less/least obvious pitfalls.

  • Exactly. If you have fifty midgets, some of them will be among the tallest midgets. Commented Mar 3, 2017 at 5:33

I think there's a difference in perspective in the meaning of "obvious" in the two sentences:

a danger or difficulty, especially one that is hidden or not obvious at first

That is, not obvious to the person about to fall into it.

Getting professional advice will help you avoid the most obvious pitfalls

That is, obvious to me, the person telling you to get advice. The pitfall will not be obvious to you - that's why you should get advice, to discover what it is. (At which point, it's obvious, and hence, not a pitfall anymore. Which hopefully helps you avoid it. :))

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