at·​tain | \ ə-ˈtān How to pronounce attain (audio) \
attained; attaining; attains

Definition of attain

transitive verb

1 : to reach as an end : gain, achieve attain a goal
2 : to come into possession of : obtain he attained preferment over his fellows
3 : to come to as the end of a progression or course of movement They attained the top of the hill. attain a ripe old age

intransitive verb

: to come or arrive by motion, growth, or effort usually used with to will probably attain to a height of six feet

Other Words from attain

attainability \ ə-​ˌtā-​nə-​ˈbi-​lə-​tē How to pronounce attain (audio) \ noun
attainable \ ə-​ˈtā-​nə-​bəl How to pronounce attain (audio) \ adjective

Synonyms for attain


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Examples of attain in a Sentence

a quest to attain enlightenment She refused to let the injury keep her from attaining her goal of being in the Olympics. This kind of tree can attain a height of 20 feet within just a few years. The car can attain a top speed of 200 mph.
Recent Examples on the Web The fact that Pelosi defied such warnings affirms Beijing’s growing conviction that China may never attain national greatness as long as the U.S. is entrenched in East Asia. Michael Schuman, The Atlantic, 3 Aug. 2022 No timeline was given Wednesday as to when the district could attain unitary status. Trisha Powell Crain |, al, 6 July 2022 And the total number committed so far — 16 from the United States, and a smaller number of similar systems from allied countries — is far less than what Ukraine and outside military experts say is needed to attain battlefield parity. New York Times, 20 July 2022 Cannon performed the work as part of his Eagle Scout project — an undertaking of community service that all scouts must organize and lead to attain scouting’s most prestigious rank. Camilo Fonseca,, 16 July 2022 To attain the ultimate goal, the provider or researcher must address a major process gap between the raw data and the algorithms. Jiang Li, Forbes, 15 July 2022 That makes Beyoncé, 40, the first woman to attain at least 20 top 10 records as a solo artist, and the third entertainer of all time to have at least 10 top 10 hits as a member of a group, Billboard reports. Amethyst Tate,, 8 July 2022 Friend was the chief executive of business-to-business platform Bisnow and helped the company attain global recognition in the commercial real estate industry, Bisnow said. Nardine Saadstaff Writer, Los Angeles Times, 7 July 2022 And men such as Medgar Evers and Martin Luther King Jr. paid with their lives to attain equality long denied to African-Americans. William J. Bennett, WSJ, 30 June 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'attain.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of attain

14th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1

History and Etymology for attain

Middle English atteynen, from Anglo-French ateign-, stem of ateindre to reach, accomplish, convict, from Vulgar Latin *attangere, alteration of Latin attingere, from ad- + tangere to touch — more at tangent entry 2

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Time Traveler for attain

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The first known use of attain was in the 14th century

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Last Updated

9 Aug 2022

Cite this Entry

“Attain.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 16 Aug. 2022.

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More Definitions for attain


at·​tain | \ ə-ˈtān How to pronounce attain (audio) \
attained; attaining

Kids Definition of attain

1 : to accomplish or achieve attain a goal
2 : to come into possession of : obtain attain knowledge
3 : to reach or come to gradually : arrive at … surely no bug in all the Land of Oz had ever before attained so enormous a size.— L. Frank Baum, The Marvelous Land of Oz

Other Words from attain

attainable \ ə-​ˈtā-​nə-​bəl \ adjective

More from Merriam-Webster on attain

Nglish: Translation of attain for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of attain for Arabic Speakers


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