I have pondered my neighbour's tree for some time, unable to think of a suitable verb to describe what the tree has done.

I would like to make this into a card, with a caption. And the point I want to make would be that in life one must often cope with obstacles, not by demolishing them betimes, not by avoiding them, not by compromising oneself in respect of them but . . .

. . . in the way the tree has done.

Is there a single verb that expresses how the tree has accommodated to the fence or has cohabited with the fence which would also convey that the tree has not allowed the fence to hinder its living progress in any way ?

My caption would read something like :

In life one must _________ obstacles not fight them.

enter image description here

  • 1
    @user240918 et al.: Thank you for your effort. Please avoid discussion, debate, or giving answers in comments. The comment thread is reserved for helping to improve the post: friendly clarifying questions, suggestions for improving the question, relevant but transient information, and explanations of your actions.
    – MetaEd
    Commented Oct 31, 2018 at 22:01

9 Answers 9


One must work through obstacles, as this tree has done.

work through v.
1. To succeed in resolving something through effort: I worked through the problems I was having with my teacher, and now I'm doing better in class.

From TFD Online

  • 1
    The tree has grown through the fence. But yes, we humans have to work through our issues/problems etc.
    – Lambie
    Commented Oct 30, 2018 at 17:01
  • 1
    That gets both the literal sense and the metaphorical sense as @robusto fails to mention the literal sense in the link provided: 1. to guide or push something through a physical barrier. I could hardly work the needle through the tightly woven cloth. I worked the needle through. Commented Oct 30, 2018 at 17:08
  • @David: I didn't fail to mention it; I chose not to for the sake of brevity. ^_^ The link provides all the detail.
    – Robusto
    Commented Oct 30, 2018 at 17:53
  • "work around" sounds much more natural to me.
    – Fattie
    Commented Nov 1, 2018 at 4:12
  • A very astute choice of words, which incorporate exactly what the tree has done, physically, and also which express the metaphorical concept which I am seeking.
    – Nigel J
    Commented Nov 2, 2018 at 11:46

In life one must adapt to obstacles not fight them.

adapt: to make suitable to requirements or conditions; adjust or modify fittingly


  • It's surrendered to the fence, and not wisely. We need to (where possible) avoid getting trapped in things, else they continue to be obstacles long after we've theoretically got past them! Commented Oct 31, 2018 at 11:39

In life one must embrace obstacles not fight them.

embrace: to take in or include as a part, item, or element of a more inclusive whole


  • 7
    This word may fit the sentence but it doesn't fit the picture that OP is asking for.
    – JeffC
    Commented Oct 30, 2018 at 20:11

thread/thrid (v)

That tree has thrid the fence.

As a verb, "thread" is frequently used to refer to passing through obstacles, hazardous situations, or difficult terrain often with connotations of doing so carefully; "thrid" being the more poetic/archaic version.

Wordnik quotes from Wiktionary

v. Simple past of thread.

and the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

transitive v. To make or effect (a way or course) through something.

  • 2
    I've learned a new word today : Thrid : verb 4a. transitive. To make one's way through (a narrow place, a passage presenting difficulties or obstacles, a forest, a crowd, or the like); to pass skilfully through the intricacies or difficulties of OED.
    – Nigel J
    Commented Oct 31, 2018 at 15:09

You can have some fun with

In life, one must transcend obstacles, not fight them.

LOL at some of the definitions, which apply pretty literally,

e.g., to rise above or go beyond the limits of



Negotiate. To "negotiate obstacles" is actually a common expression. I have never heard of these others. In fact I might argue some of these others are just nonsense .. but I would rather not start a war.

Here is my reference


I would propose a word that you've actually used in your question - "accommodate".

It has the sense of getting on with life, while peacefully fitting in with the effects of the fence.

The OED's definition for accomodate (in this sense) is:

"Fit in with the wishes or needs of; Adapt to"

You might also say that the fence has accommodated the tree! Hope that helps.

  • 2
    Isn't "fit in" itself a more suitable expression? After all, that's what the tree has done: fit. In.
    – Headcrab
    Commented Oct 31, 2018 at 5:51

assimilate. Cambridge Dictionary and the idiom: assimilate with

to make someone or something become part of someone or something; to make similar; to blend harmoniously

As in:

In life one must assimilate with one's obstacles, not fight them.

  • 2
    Keep in mind that many people's first association with this word is The Borg. Commented Oct 30, 2018 at 19:52
  • @TKK apt association!
    – lbf
    Commented Oct 30, 2018 at 19:57
  • 9
    The tree has not assimilated the fence. They are still two distinct things.
    – JeffC
    Commented Oct 30, 2018 at 20:10

"In life one must harmonize with obstacles, not fight them."

harmonize - (verb) to bring into harmony, accord, or agreement.

  • to harmonize one's views with the new situation.
  • "The models used to guide technology application must harmonize with current models of disability."¹
  • "After all, we humans are relational beings; we're made to harmonize with one another."²
  • "When this occurs, take a step back mentally, reorient your thoughts and the energy pattern that you are projecting, and try to harmonize with the other person."³
  • "Here we have similar physical-geography environments harmonizing with widely differing animal lives"4

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.