Merriam-Webster Logo
  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
  • Scrabble
  • Spanish Central
  • Learner's Dictionary


noun \ˈgān\

Simple Definition of gain

  • : something wanted or valued that is gotten : something that is gained; especially : money gotten through some activity or process

  • : something that is helpful : advantage or benefit

  • : an increase in amount, size, or number

Source: Merriam-Webster's Learner's Dictionary

Full Definition of gain

  1. 1 :  resources or advantage acquired or increased :  profit <made substantial gains last year>

  2. 2 :  the act or process of gaining

  3. 3 a :  an increase in amount, magnitude, or degree <a gain in efficiency> b :  the increase (as of voltage or signal intensity) caused by an amplifier; especially :  the ratio of output over input c :  the signal-gathering ability of an antenna

Examples of gain in a sentence

  1. The medication can cause nausea and weight gain.

  2. <attributed her recent weight gain to the medication she was taking>

Origin and Etymology of gain

Middle English gayne, from Anglo-French gaigne, gain, from gaaigner to till, earn, gain, of Germanic origin; akin to Old High German weidanōn to hunt for food, Old English wāth pursuit, hunt

First Known Use: 14th century




Simple Definition of gain

  • : to get (something wanted or valued)

  • : to win (something) in a competition, battle, etc.

  • : to gradually get (something) or more of (something) as time passes

Source: Merriam-Webster's Learner's Dictionary

Full Definition of gain

  1. transitive verb
  2. 1 a :  to acquire or get possession of usually by industry, merit, or craft <gain an advantage> <he stood to gain a fortune> b :  to win in competition or conflict <the troops gained enemy territory> c (1) :  to arrive at :  reach, attain <gained the river that night> (2) :  traverse, cover <gained 10 yards on the play> d :  to get by a natural development or process <gain strength> e :  to establish a specific relationship with <gain a friend>

  3. 2 a :  to make an increase of (a specified amount) <gained three percent in the past month> b :  to increase in (a particular quality) <gain momentum>

  4. 3 :  to win to one's side :  persuade <gain adherents to a cause>

  5. 4 :  to cause to be obtained or given :  attract <gain attention>

  6. 5 of a timepiece :  to run fast by the amount of <the clock gains a minute a day>

  7. intransitive verb
  8. 1 :  to get advantage :  profit <hoped to gain by the deal>

  9. 2 a :  increase <the day was gaining in warmth> b :  to increase in weight c :  to improve in health or ability

  10. 3 of a timepiece :  to run fast

  11. 4 :  to get closer to something pursued —usually used with on or upon



gain ground

  1. :  to make progress

Examples of gain in a sentence

  1. They stand to gain an advantage over their competitors by getting an early start.

  2. What do you hope to gain from this?

  3. gain control of the territory

  4. Investigators are trying to gain access to the group's financial records.

  5. We were unable to gain admission to the club.

  6. We need to gain a better understanding of the problem.

  7. They had nothing to lose and everything to gain.

  8. He first gained attention as a young writer.

  9. Her theories are slowly gaining acceptance.

  10. I took the job to gain experience.

14th Century

First Known Use of gain

14th century

GAIN Defined for Kids



noun \ˈgān\

Definition of gain for Students

  1. 1 :  something valuable or desirable that is obtained or acquired :  profit <financial gains>

  2. 2 :  an increase in amount, size, or degree




Definition of gain for Students



  1. 1 :  to get or win often by effort <You gain knowledge by study.> <He exercised to gain strength.>

  2. 2 :  to get or acquire in a natural or gradual way <He gained ten pounds.>

  3. 3 :  to increase in <The car gained speed.>

  4. 4 :  to get to :  reach <The swimmer gained the shore.>

  5. 5 :  to get an advantage :  profit <We all gained from the lesson.>

Medical Dictionary


intransitive verb \ˈgān\

Medical Definition of gain

  1. :  to improve in health <the patient gained daily>

Law Dictionary



Legal Definition of gain

  1. 1 :  an increase in value, capital, or amount — compare loss capital gain :  a gain realized on the sale or exchange of a capital asset (as a stock or real estate) casualty gain :  a gain realized by an insured because property insurance benefits paid for a loss from a casualty or theft are greater than the adjusted value of the insured asset long–term capital gain :  a capital gain realized on the sale or exchange of an asset held for more than a specified period (as a year) ordinary gain :  a gain from the exchange or sale of an asset that is not capital short–term capital gain :  a capital gain realized on the sale or exchange of an asset held for less than a specified period (as a year) that is treated as ordinary income under federal income tax laws

  2. 2 pl in the civil law of Louisiana :  a class of community property that reflects the increase in property value contributed by the common skill or labor of the spouses



Seen and Heard

What made you want to look up gain? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


a secret group of plotters

Get Word of the Day daily email!


Take a 3-minute break and test your skills!


Which is a synonym of asperse?

placate beat defame divulge
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!


Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.