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


verb, \ˈlərn\

Simple Definition of learn

  • : to gain knowledge or skill by studying, practicing, being taught, or experiencing something

  • : to cause (something) to be in your memory by studying it

  • : to hear or be told (something) : to find out (something)

Source: Merriam-Webster's Learner's Dictionary

Full Definition of learn

learned play \ˈlərnd, ˈlərnt\ learning

  1. transitive verb
  2. 1 a (1) :  to gain knowledge or understanding of or skill in by study, instruction, or experience <learn a trade> (2) :  memorize <learn the lines of a play> b :  to come to be able <learn to dance> c :  to come to realize <learned that honesty paid>

  3. 2 a nonstandard :  teach b obsolete :  to inform of something

  4. 3 :  to come to know :  hear <we just learned that he was ill>

  5. intransitive verb
  6. :  to acquire knowledge or skill or a behavioral tendency

learnable play \ˈlər-nə-bəl\ adjective
learner noun

Usage Discussion of learn

Learn in the sense of “teach” dates from the 13th century and was standard until at least the early 19th <made them drunk with true Hollands—and then learned them the art of making bargains — Washington Irving>. But by Mark Twain's time it was receding to a speech form associated chiefly with the less educated <never done nothing for three months but set in his back yard and learn that frog to jump — Mark Twain>. The present-day status of learn has not risen. This use persists in speech, but in writing it appears mainly in the representation of such speech or its deliberate imitation for effect.

Examples of learn in a sentence

  1. People learn throughout their lives.

  2. I can't swim yet, but I'm learning.

  3. She's interested in learning French.

  4. We had to learn the rules of the game.

  5. I'm trying to learn my lines for the play.

  6. We had to learn the names of the state capitals.

  7. She learned through a letter that her father had died.

  8. I later learned that they had never called.

  9. We finally learned the truth about what had happened.

Origin of learn

Middle English lernen, from Old English leornian; akin to Old High German lernēn to learn, Old English last footprint, Latin lira furrow, track

First Known Use: before 12th century

Synonym Discussion of learn

discover, ascertain, determine, unearth, learn mean to find out what one did not previously know. discover may apply to something requiring exploration or investigation or to a chance encounter <discovered the source of the river>. ascertain implies effort to find the facts or the truth proceeding from awareness of ignorance or uncertainty <attempts to ascertain the population of the region>. determine emphasizes the intent to establish the facts definitely or precisely <unable to determine the origin of the word>. unearth implies bringing to light something forgotten or hidden <unearth old records>. learn may imply acquiring knowledge with little effort or conscious intention (as by simply being told) or it may imply study and practice <I learned her name only today> <learning Greek>.

Rhymes with learn

LEARN Defined for Kids


verb \ˈlərn\

Definition of learn for Students

learned \ˈlərnd\ also learnt \ˈlərnt\learning

  1. 1 :  to get knowledge of or skill in by study, instruction, or experience <I'm learning a foreign language.>

  2. 2 :  memorize <Actors have to learn their lines.>

  3. 3 :  to become able through practice <Babies learn to walk.>

  4. 4 :  to come to realize and understand <You must learn right from wrong.>

  5. 5 :  to find out <I finally learned what had happened.>

  6. 6 :  to gain knowledge <The children were eager to learn.>

learner noun

Medical Dictionary


verb \ˈlərn\

Medical Definition of learn

learned \ˈlərnd, ˈlərnt\play play also learnt \ˈlərnt\play ; learning

  1. transitive verb

  2. :  to acquire (a change in behavior) by learning

  3. intransitive verb

  4. :  to acquire a behavioral tendency by learning

learner noun

Seen and Heard

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


marked by grandiloquent style

Get Word of the Day daily email!


Take a 3-minute break and test your skills!


Which of these is a synonym of nonplus?

perplex disapprove reduce soothe
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!


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