attain

verb
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

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from attain

attainability \ -​ˌtā-​nə-​ˈbi-​lə-​tē How to pronounce attainability (audio) \ noun
attainable \ -​ˈtā-​nə-​bəl How to pronounce attainable (audio) \ adjective

Synonyms for attain

Synonyms

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

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

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.
See More

Recent Examples on the Web

This month’s fashion portfolio features a young woman who has quickly attained It Girl status on the fashion circuit. Kristina O’neill, WSJ, "WSJ. Magazine Editor’s Letter: Lucky Stars," 17 Jan. 2019 The age the child has attained should go on the party favors, table decorations and, of course, the birthday cake. Jeanne Phillips, San Francisco Chronicle, "Mystifying mood swings happen without warning," 2 June 2018 Positive thinking can actually impede the likelihood of attaining our goals. Adam Sternbergh, The Cut, "Read This Story and Get Happier," 28 May 2018 Thanos is finally fed up with his minions failing to attain the Infinity Stones. Eliana Dockterman, Time, "Avengers: Infinity War Is Almost Here. Here’s What to Know About the Marvel Cinematic Universe Before You Go," 23 Apr. 2018 In fact, most adults never attain the kind of maturity that allows for Osaka’s uncanny balance of self-confidence and humility. Louisa Thomas, Vogue, "The New Number One: Naomi Osaka Is Playing to Win," 21 Mar. 2019 More than a fashion moment, Beyoncé’s post provided a glowing endorsement for a candidate viewed as an arbiter of change and a reminder of those who fought to attain the right to engage in politics. Janelle Okwodu, Vogue, "Beyoncé Gives a High Fashion Shout-Out to Beto O’Rourke," 6 Nov. 2018 When the planet crosses the meridian and attains its highest point in the sky, at around 1 a.m. local daylight time, Mars' altitude above the southern horizon will be only 23 degrees as viewed from Chicago and 30 degrees from Los Angeles. Joe Rao, Space.com, "Mars Makes Its Closest Approach in 15 Years This Summer: How to See It," 29 May 2018 To Deneen, modern liberalism defines freedom as the absence of restraint, and takes attaining such a state as its primary purpose. Fred Bauer, National Review, "Saving Liberty from Liberalism," 17 Jan. 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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about attain

Statistics for attain

Last Updated

11 Apr 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for attain

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

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for attain

attain

verb

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.)

attain

verb
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?

Keep scrolling for more

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).

WORD OF THE DAY

marked by a state of overwhelming emotion

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Words from Greek and Latin Quiz

  • roman forum
  • Which of the following months comes from a Latin word for “ten”?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ
SCRABBLE® Sprint

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!