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

Loyola and its team chaplain Sister Jean Dolores-Schmidt, who attained pseudo-celebrity status and saw her must-have bobblehead go back on sale, earned a prime spot in the glass-slipper pantheon. Chris Johnson,, "Year-End Awards: The Best and Worst of the 2017–18 College Basketball Season," 10 Apr. 2018 Among the more than 100 prestigious honors the more than 50 students have attained are four Silver Medals at the National Scholastic Art and Writing competition, in which fewer than 1 percent of participating schools win awards. Steve Smith, Courant Community, "RHS Writers Outdo Themselves - Again," 29 May 2018 Now that Woods, 42, is back at Augusta National as a player -- and healthy and hungry and on his game -- after a two-year hiatus, Masters 2018 has attained a different level of anticipation. Dennis Manoloff,, "Masters 2018: Tee times, schedule, TV, players to watch for PGA Tour's 1st major (photos)," 4 Apr. 2018 Super Lawyers is a rating service of outstanding lawyers from more than 70 practice areas who have attained a high-degree of peer recognition and professional achievement. Staff Reports, Houston Chronicle, "Business Briefs for the Week of July 13-20," 13 July 2018 And every major character has spent the bulk of the season trying to attain it, or destroy it, or both. Brian Barrett, WIRED, "Westworld’s Real Villain Has Always Been Its Privacy Policy," 24 June 2018 The percentage of women of color who have attained the role of corporate executive hasn’t grown beyond 4 percent since 2009, Working Mother said. Samantha Bomkamp,, "Two Illinois-based companies named among best for multicultural women," 8 May 2018 That coveted home-court advantage that Portland had worked so hard to attain over 82 regular-season games was handed over in a few quick hours on Saturday. John Canzano,, "Canzano: Trail Blazers guards Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum go missing in Game 1 loss," 14 Apr. 2018 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

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

7 Nov 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for attain

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

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More Definitions for attain



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

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