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

Synonyms for attain


achieve, bag, chalk up, clock (up) [chiefly British], gain, hit, log, make, notch (up), rack up, ring up, score, win

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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

Meanwhile, fifth-year forward Natasha Howard took the Most Improved award after attaining career highs in points (13.2), rebounds (6.4), assists (1.0), steals (1.2) and blocks (1.9) during her first year in Seattle. Percy Allen, The Seattle Times, "Storm star Breanna Stewart claims AP WNBA Player of the Year award," 21 Aug. 2018 In addition, Rocchi attained a grant that funded a heating and air conditioning system, windows, electrical wiring and lighting throughout the school, the proclamation said. Pioneer Press,, "What's happening in Elmwood Park: Village hall to receive new front entrance; St. Celestine principal honored," 14 May 2018 The American company is looking at sourcing Mahindra powertrains for use on its product range, something that will help the companies attain economies of scale and price the vehicles more competitively. Pankaj Radhe, USA TODAY, "Yet to turn a profit, Ford won't give up on India," 8 Apr. 2018 The American company is looking at sourcing Mahindra powertrains for use on its product range, something that will help the companies attain economies of scale and price the vehicles more competitively. Pankaj Radhe, Detroit Free Press, "Ford really wants to succeed in India: Here's why," 6 Apr. 2018 Since NBC News first published the story Wednesday, the White House said several officials have since attained permanent clearances of varying levels. Mike Memoli, NBC News, "White House overhauls security clearance process following revelations," 16 Feb. 2018 According to Dougherty, MAC’s Aaliyah Instagrams generate four times more engagement than others and attain a 30 percent higher reach in impressions. Alexa Tietjen | Wwd,, "How Instagram willed a MAC X Aaliyah collaboration to fruition," 19 June 2018 In addition to attaining the license, Chalice's suit is asking the California Superior Court to clarify the regulations determined by Prop 64. Taylor Mims, Billboard, "Chalice Festival Sues Bureau of Cannabis Control as Weed-Centric Events Battle With Legalization," 13 July 2018 The paper straw underwent very few changes in the decades that followed Mr. Stone’s infamous mint julep, aside from attaining its now famous bendy-ness in the 1930s thanks to an inventor in San Francisco named Joseph Friedman. Emelyn Rude, Time, "The Backlash Against Plastic Straws Is Spreading. Here’s How They Got So Popular in the First Place," 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

14 Feb 2019

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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

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 \
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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