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 Data from the online compensation research platform PayScale found that Black women attain an average earnings peak of $61,100, compared with $68,800 for white women — both of which fall far below the $104,100 peak earnings of white men. Martha C. White, NBC News, 5 May 2022 While the era of nap pods and in-office bowling alleys as a key way to attract talent may be over, policies aimed at helping employees to attain better work-life balance are arguably more attractive than ever. Sarah Todd, Quartz, 28 Jan. 2022 Inflationary shock, fueled by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, has deepened anxiety among French voters who worry that citizens can no longer attain the standard of living of previous generations—a phenomenon known as le grand déclassement. Stacy Meichtry, WSJ, 22 Apr. 2022 Dufilho recalls trying to attain this biblical standard of womanhood. Brianna Griff, Chron, 18 Mar. 2022 This is an asset for a country trying to attain the Paris Agreement targets. Ian Palmer, Forbes, 20 June 2021 Any purchase would provide a burst of growth that JetBlue can’t otherwise attain, and create a secure supply of new Airbus SE planes for the future. Mary Schlangenstein, Fortune, 8 Apr. 2022 Rationality is generally taken to mean the ability to use knowledge to attain goals. Mark Shiffman, Harper’s Magazine , 16 Mar. 2022 While politicians and pundits talk and write romantically about the nobility of small businesses, the simple truth is that small businesses all-too-often attain vitality from the large. John Tamny, Forbes, 14 Mar. 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

17 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Attain.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 22 May. 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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