at·tain | \ ə-ˈtān \
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

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Other words from attain

attainability \-ˌtā-nə-ˈbi-lə-tē \ noun
attainable \-ˈtā-nə-bəl \ adjective

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

On Monday, Bud became the second straight hurricane to attain at least Category 3 strength in a three-day span. Jason Samenow, Washington Post, "Category 3 Hurricane Bud forecast to strike Mexico as strong tropical storm," 12 June 2018 Experts say attaining that goal is almost impossible since utilities are opting to scrap aging reactors rather than to invest in meeting tighter post-disaster safety standards. Mari Yamaguchi, The Seattle Times, "Japan OKs ambitious nuke energy goals, plutonium reuse plan," 3 July 2018 Among the baseball participants were several hardened October veterans, including visitors who wondered if San Diego sunshine had attained the ability to act like caffeine. Tom Krasovic,, "1998 Padres take pride in helping make downtown ballpark a reality," 10 May 2018 Twenty-two counties have a lay medical examiner system, and half of those offices have attained formal death investigation training. Jeff Rumage, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Photos: A look inside the Ozaukee County coroner's office," 2 May 2018 Class 3 bikes, also throttled, have electric motors and in combination with pedaling can attain speeds of up to 28 miles an hour. Ed Wallace, star-telegram, "Uneasy Rider," 21 Apr. 2018 However, while the 44-year-old has attained quite a few accolades in her decade as a designer, there are still a few in the fashion world who don’t consider her one of their own. Colleen Kratofil,, "Dolce & Gabbana Designer Disses Victoria Beckham — On Her Birthday," 19 Apr. 2018 The Mountaineers had two players attain double-doubles. Andrew Greif,, "At Western Oregon, a hometown star has helped build NCAA's longest winning streak," 8 Mar. 2018 Lucas Torreira's agent Pablo Betancourt has revealed that Arsenal beat Borussia Dortmund, Napoli and several Spanish clubs to attain his client's signature., "Lucas Torreira's Agent Reveals the Clubs Arsenal Beat to Sign Uruguay International," 12 July 2018

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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Statistics for attain

Last Updated

12 Sep 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for attain

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

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English Language Learners Definition of attain

: 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 \
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

Comments on attain

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


alleviating pain or harshness

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