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 towill probably attain to a height of six feet

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Other Words from attain

attainability \ ə-​ˌtā-​nə-​ˈbi-​lə-​tē How to pronounce attainability (audio) \ noun
attainable \ ə-​ˈtā-​nə-​bəl How to pronounce attainable (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.
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Recent Examples on the Web Discharged from the Air Force in 1960, Mr. Lane was an Air Force reservist from 1976 until 1993, and at the time of his retirement had attained the rank of master sergeant. Frederick N. Rasmussen,, "James E. Lane, veteran, electrician and contractor, dies," 17 Oct. 2019 And attaining an education in prison is among the highest predictors that someone will not return to criminal activity. Mike Novogratz For Cnn Business Perspectives, CNN, "Giving prisoners a shot at a college education can turn lives around. But they need the government's help," 11 Oct. 2019 Massie, who attained the rank of sergeant and worked investigations including numerous murders, served with the troopers for 26 years before retiring in 2004. Zaz Hollander, Anchorage Daily News, "Longtime Mat-Su trooper Dallas Massie dies in collision near Wasilla," 27 Sep. 2019 Even attaining the official 7% growth, recorded during the last five years, would be an uphill task as the recently-announced fiscal stimulus and banking sector rejig would appear too modest. R Nagaraj, Quartz India, "India’s economic slowdown may be worse than it appears," 10 Sep. 2019 This is the primary way that our working households attain the American dream of home ownership. Washington Post, "Mobile home parks move from mom-and-pop to corporate," 16 Sep. 2019 Shows reaching that milestone — usually achieved at some point in the not easily attained fifth season of a network run — became ripe for syndication, and the rich financial rewards that came with it. Stephen Battaglio, Los Angeles Times, "The end of the backend? Disney wants to limit profit participation on its new TV shows," 12 Sep. 2019 Though it has also been produced as a concept album and an animated film, The Wrong Man started as a collection of songs that Golan would perform for small gatherings in friends’ living rooms and barns, quickly attaining a kind of cult status. Adam Green, Vogue, "Hamilton’s Thomas Kail Returns to His Improv Roots with Freestyle Love Supreme," 10 Sep. 2019 While the Dolphins are hoping to one day reach the dominance Clemson has attained on the college front, Miami is in the nascent stages of its rebuild after hitting the reset button this offseason. Wells Dusenbury,, "‘I’m not rolling over for anybody’ — Christian Wilkins ignoring low expectations for Dolphins," 5 Sep. 2019

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.

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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

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for attain

Last Updated

21 Nov 2019

Cite this Entry

“Attain.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 22 November 2019.

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More Definitions for attain


How to pronounce attain (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of attain

somewhat formal
: to accomplish or achieve (something) : to succeed in getting or doing (something)
: to grow or increase to (a particular amount, size, etc.)


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 Are your goals attainable?

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More from Merriam-Webster on attain

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for attain

Spanish Central: Translation of attain

Nglish: Translation of attain for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of attain for Arabic Speakers

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