\ ˈfān How to pronounce fain (audio) \

Definition of fain

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 archaic : happy, pleased
2 archaic : inclined, desirous
3a : 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



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

amenable, disposed, game, glad, inclined, minded, ready, willing

Synonyms: Adverb

first, preferably, rather, readily, soon, willingly

Antonyms: Adjective

disinclined, unamenable, unwilling

Antonyms: Adverb

involuntarily, unwillingly

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Examples of fain in a Sentence


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


“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 1


12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for fain

Adjective and Adverb

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

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Statistics for fain

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Time Traveler for fain

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

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More from Merriam-Webster on fain

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with fain

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for fain

Nglish: Translation of fain for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of fain for Arabic Speakers

Comments on fain

What made you want to look up fain? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


characterized by aphorism

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