\ ˈfān How to pronounce fain (audio) \

Definition of fain

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1a : willing he was very fain, for the young widow was "altogether fair and lovely … "— Amy Kelly
b : being obliged or constrained : compelled Great Britain was fain to devote its whole energy … to the business of slaying and being slain— G. M. Trevelyan
2 archaic : happy, pleased
3 archaic : inclined, desirous



Definition of fain (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : with pleasure : gladly a speech of fire that fain would blaze— William Shakespeare
2a : by preference knew it, too, though he would fain not admit it publicly— John Lukacs
b : by desire I would fain consult you— W. S. Gilbert

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Synonyms & Antonyms for fain

Synonyms: Adjective

Synonyms: Adverb

Antonyms: Adjective

Antonyms: Adverb

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Examples of fain in a Sentence

Adjective during the Renaissance most men of science and the arts were fain to express their noblest thoughts in Latin, the lingua franca of the learned Adverb “I would fain not marry that suitor, my lord,” the princess pleaded

First Known Use of fain


before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 3


12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for fain


Middle English fagen, fayn, from Old English fægen; akin to Old English gefēon to rejoice, Old High German gifehan, Old Norse feginn happy


Middle English fayn, derivative of fayn fain entry 1

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Time Traveler for fain

Time Traveler

The first known use of fain was before the 12th century

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Cite this Entry

“Fain.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/fain. Accessed 12 Jul. 2020.

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More from Merriam-Webster on fain

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for fain

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with fain

Nglish: Translation of fain for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of fain for Arabic Speakers

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