\ ˈgān How to pronounce gain (audio) \

Definition of gain

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : resources or advantage acquired or increased : profit made substantial gains last year
2 : the act or process of acquiring something
3a : an increase in amount, magnitude, or degree a gain in efficiency
b : the increase (as of voltage or signal intensity) caused by an amplifier especially : the ratio of output over input
c : the signal-gathering ability of an antenna


gained; gaining; gains

Definition of gain (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

1a : to acquire or get possession of usually by industry, merit, or craft gain an advantage he stood to gain a fortune
b : to win in competition or conflict the troops gained enemy territory
c(1) : to arrive at : reach, attain gained the river that night
(2) : traverse, cover gained 10 yards on the play
d : to get by a natural development or process gain strength
e : to establish a specific relationship with gain a friend
2a : to make an increase of (a specified amount) gained three percent in the past month
b : to increase in (a particular quality) gain momentum
3 : to win to one's side : persuade gain adherents to a cause
4 : to cause to be obtained or given : attract gain attention
5 of a timepiece : to run fast by the amount of the clock gains a minute a day

intransitive verb

1 : to get advantage : profit hoped to gain by the deal
2a : increase the day was gaining in warmth
b : to increase in weight
c : to improve in health or ability
3 of a timepiece : to run fast
4 : to get closer to something pursued usually used with on or upon
gain ground
: to make progress

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Other Words from gain


gainer noun

Examples of gain in a Sentence

Noun The medication can cause nausea and weight gain. attributed her recent weight gain to the medication she was taking Verb They stand to gain an advantage over their competitors by getting an early start. What do you hope to gain from this? gain control of the territory Investigators are trying to gain access to the group's financial records. We were unable to gain admission to the club. We need to gain a better understanding of the problem. They had nothing to lose and everything to gain. He first gained attention as a young writer. Her theories are slowly gaining acceptance. I took the job to gain experience.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Conspiracy theories have always helped rationalize white grievance, and people who exploit white grievance for political or financial gain often purvey conspiracy theories. Luke Mogelson, The New Yorker, "Among the Insurrectionists," 15 Jan. 2021 Meanwhile, other Republicans, including U.S. Rep. Peter Meijer, R-Grand Rapids, decried efforts for political gain that could destabilize the nation. Todd Spangler, Detroit Free Press, "In wake of Trump and storming of the US Capitol, Republicans face uncertain future," 10 Jan. 2021 Among the most intent on harnessing history for political gain are the current leaders of the Chinese Communist Party. Barbara Demick, The Atlantic, "Uncovering the Cultural Revolution’s Awful Truths," 18 Dec. 2020 Regrettably, vice president-elect Kamala Harris and other prominent Democrats have played into this fear for political gain. Isaac Schorr, National Review, "You Can Trust the Coronavirus Vaccines," 10 Dec. 2020 Far-left leader Jean-Luc Mélenchon accused the government of seizing on a rise of anti-Muslim sentiment for political gain. Noemie Bisserbe, WSJ, "France’s Macron Proposes Bill Outlawing ‘Islamist Separatism’," 9 Dec. 2020 The president, who is trailing Democrat Joe Biden in polls nationally and in Wisconsin, accused Democrat Pritzker of using coronavirus mitigation strategies for political gain. Dan Petrella,, "Gov. J.B. Pritzker blames President Trump and his allies for coronavirus spike in Illinois," 18 Oct. 2020 Critics argue that the government is creating an unnecessary and manufactured urgency for political gain. Audrey Mcnamara, CBS News, "Federal government to execute first woman since 1953," 17 Oct. 2020 Fitzgerald responded by accusing Evers of exploiting the pandemic for political gain. Scott Bauer, Star Tribune, "Wisconsin breaks record for virus cases third time in week," 16 Oct. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb First, change the default password you for accessing the router settings page to something else—this will stop anyone who might gain access to your network from changing the Wi-Fi password themselves. David Nield, Popular Science, "How to keep people from stealing your Wi-Fi," 7 Jan. 2021 Offensive linemen and role players have to gain most of their satisfaction from winning. Terry Pluto, cleveland, "Shedding label of Same Old Browns – Pregame Scribbles, Terry Pluto," 3 Jan. 2021 But now that the threat to the GOP’s grasp on Texas politics is gone, don’t expect expansion of Medicaid to gain serious traction from anyone other than Democrats. James Barragán, Dallas News, "5 things to watch in Texas politics in 2021," 29 Dec. 2020 The push to connect with young voters has been especially apparent for the Democratic campaigns, which have more to gain from youth turnout – and more to lose if there’s a drop-off. Ben Nadler, The Christian Science Monitor, "Turnout among young voters key to Georgia Senate runoffs," 26 Dec. 2020 The push to connect with young voters has been especially apparent for the Democratic campaigns, which have more to gain from youth turnout — and more to lose if there's a drop-off. Ben Nadler, ajc, "Turnout among young voters key to Georgia Senate runoffs," 26 Dec. 2020 What do people think Gov. Walz and other state officials gain from these restrictions? Star Tribune, "Readers Write: COVID in Minnesota, legalizing marijuana, Al Milgrom," 25 Dec. 2020 Vaccine hesitancy among communities of color has been a particular concern for health officials, who argue that those groups, which have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic, could stand to gain the most from getting vaccinated. Washington Post, "Virginia reports record-breaking coronavirus cases for second day in a row," 24 Dec. 2020 The jury heard only part of another set of evidence, about another person who stood to gain from the fire. Anna Sturla, CNN, "Imprisoned nearly 40 years, a Michigan man is freed after a witness recanted her story," 16 Dec. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'gain.' 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 gain


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


14th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1a

History and Etymology for gain


Middle English gain, borrowed from Anglo-French gain, gaigne, gaaing "tillage, winning, profit," derivative of gaainer, gaaigner "to till, secure (profit, advantage)" — more at gain entry 2

Note: See note at gain entry 2.


Middle English gaynen "to prevail against," borrowed from Anglo-French gaainer, gaaigner "to cultivate, till, secure (profit, advantage), capture, acquire, be victorious," going back to Old Low Franconian *waiđanjan, of uncertain meaning and origin

Note: The presumed Old Low Franconian verb *waiđanjan has no exact counterpart in neighboring Germanic languages, and given the diverse meanings of the French verb, hypotheses that explain it are all somewhat tenuous. The base has traditionally been taken to be that of Old High German weida "pasture," Old Saxon weiđa, from which a verb meaning "to pasture" was derived, which then hypothetically developed the sense "to cultivate, till" and further derived senses. Alternatively, the verb could be linked to Old High German weidenōn "to hunt," a derivative of weida "hunt, quantity of game taken, catch" (corresponding to Old English wāth "hunt, chase, wandering," Old Norse veiðr "catch, haul of fish"). In Middle English both the noun and verb are presumed to have crossed with borrowings of Old Norse gagn "advantage, victory." Early Modern English gain has acquired senses directly from Middle French and French gagner.

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Time Traveler for gain

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for gain

Last Updated

22 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

“Gain.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 24 Jan. 2021.

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More Definitions for gain


How to pronounce gain (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of gain

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: something wanted or valued that is gotten : something that is gained especially : money gotten through some activity or process
: something that is helpful : advantage or benefit
: an increase in amount, size, or number



English Language Learners Definition of gain (Entry 2 of 2)

: to get (something wanted or valued)
: to win (something) in a competition, battle, etc.
: to gradually get (something) or more of (something) as time passes


\ ˈgān How to pronounce gain (audio) \

Kids Definition of gain

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : something valuable or desirable that is obtained or acquired : profit financial gains
2 : an increase in amount, size, or degree


gained; gaining

Kids Definition of gain (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : to get or win often by effort You gain knowledge by study. He exercised to gain strength.
2 : to get or acquire in a natural or gradual way He gained ten pounds.
3 : to increase in The car gained speed.
4 : to get to : reach The swimmer gained the shore.
5 : to get an advantage : profit We all gained from the lesson.
\ ˈgān How to pronounce gain (audio) \

Medical Definition of gain

: to improve in health the patient gained daily

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Legal Definition of gain

1 : an increase in value, capital, or amount — compare loss
capital gain
: a gain realized on the sale or exchange of a capital asset (as a stock or real estate)
casualty gain
: a gain realized by an insured because property insurance benefits paid for a loss from a casualty or theft are greater than the adjusted value of the insured asset
long-term capital gain
: a capital gain realized on the sale or exchange of an asset held for more than a specified period (as a year)
ordinary gain
: a gain from the exchange or sale of an asset that is not capital
short-term capital gain
: a capital gain realized on the sale or exchange of an asset held for less than a specified period (as a year) that is treated as ordinary income under federal income tax laws
2 plural, in the civil law of Louisiana : a class of community property that reflects the increase in property value contributed by the common skill or labor of the spouses

Other Words from gain

gain verb

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