\ˈgān \

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


The medication can cause nausea and weight gain. attributed her recent weight gain to the medication she was taking


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

In the first six months of the year, technology shares accounted for more than 100% of the gains in the S&P 500. Charley Grant, WSJ, "Fear of Missing Out Drives Stock Performance," 13 July 2018 Shares of most kinds of large companies finished higher, with food and consumer products makers, energy companies and utilities making some of the biggest gains. Marley Jay, The Seattle Times, "US stocks climb again as Pepsi leads household goods rally," 10 July 2018 Test results Highlights of the statewide 2018 preliminary scores include: English language arts has seen many of the largest gains in proficiency. Ricardo Cano, azcentral, "AzMERIT results: 56 percent of Arizona third-graders aren't proficient in reading," 18 June 2018 While the announcement will weigh on valuation for health stocks, Amazon’s market share gains will be dependent on customer preference. Fortune, "Here’s What Analysts Are Saying About Amazon Buying PillPack," 28 June 2018 The yearly national gain was an average 6.4 percent. Phillip Molnar,, "San Diego home prices up 7.8% in a year," 26 June 2018 But the potential gains are so large that companies such as JP Morgan and Daimler are already experimenting with early machines from IBM. Tom Simonite, WIRED, "It’s Time You Learned About Quantum Computing," 25 June 2018 In the 19th and early 20th centuries, single-person households consisted mostly of men, but the greatest gains in living alone during the past 50 years have been among women. Ashley Fetters, Curbed, "Living alone and liking it," 20 June 2018 Home construction can be volatile on a monthly basis, so May's gains may be a blip rather than a trend. Josh Boak, Fox News, "US housing starts jumped 5 pct. in May off Midwest building," 19 June 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

That reality could change how black women candidates are addressed by political parties, with women gaining more access to funding and campaign support in the earlier stages of their campaigns. P.r. Lockhart, Vox, "Black women turned electoral power into political power in 2018," 9 Nov. 2018 At the same time, according to GlobalData, those that stay might be able to gain access to new fields or renegotiate contracts for better terms. Bradley Olson, WSJ, "Chevron Stayed in Venezuela Long After Rivals Quit. Then It Had Second Thoughts.," 8 Nov. 2018 Police experts in the east of the Netherlands have succeeded in gaining access to this communication. Dan Goodin, Ars Technica, "Police decrypt 258,000 messages after breaking pricey IronChat crypto app," 7 Nov. 2018 Levin was charged with three counts of gaining unauthorized access to a network, his home was raided by the police, and all of his devices were confiscated. Makena Kelly, The Verge, "Real security flaws became a sketchy hacking investigation in Georgia," 5 Nov. 2018 The company depends on very little advertising but mostly paid subscriptions, claiming hundreds of thousands of hardcore hikers who pay $30 a year to gain access to things like overlays of upcoming weather and ways to share a route with friends. Theodore Schleifer, Recode, "Investors are betting $75 million on AllTrails and its content for hikers," 11 Oct. 2018 The struggle to gain access to the movement goes beyond class lines, cash or politics. Allison Mcgevna, Glamour, "A Year Later, Is the #MeToo Movement Stuck in Hollywood?," 5 Oct. 2018 Investigators are now trying to confirm to whom the gun belonged and how the teens were able to gain access to it, KOMO News reported. Jameelah Nasheed, Teen Vogue, "A Teenager Is Facing Manslaughter Charges After Allegedly Shooting and Killing His Friend," 16 Aug. 2018 Here’s how Android users can gain access to Fortnite, followed by the full list of phones that can play Fornite on Android. Brad Chacos, PCWorld, "How to install Fortnite on Android, and every phone that can play it," 13 Aug. 2018

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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Dictionary Entries near gain








Statistics for gain

Last Updated

12 Nov 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for gain

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

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More Definitions for gain



Financial Definition of gain

What It Is

A gain, also called a capital gain, is an increase in the value of an investment. It is the difference between the purchase price (the basis) and the sale price of an asset. Thus the formula for gain is:

Sale Price - Purchase Price = Gain

Note that this formula assumes the sale price is higher than the purchase price. If an investor sells an asset for less than he or she paid, this is called a loss.

How It Works

Let's assume you purchase 100 shares of Company XYZ for $1 per share. After three months, the share price increases to $5. This means the value of the investment has increased from $100 to $500, for a gain of $400.

Why It Matters

Gains are taxable, but only when they are realized. That is, they only become taxable when the asset is sold. Until that point, any gains are considered unrealized and are not taxable. The IRS considers nearly every asset owned by individuals and companies as capital assets and thus subject to capital gains taxes.

Taxpayers report capital gains on IRS Schedule D, but these gains are subject to different tax rates depending on whether they are short-term or long-term (and in some cases depending on the type of asset). In the example above, if you sold the Company XYZ shares after a year, the IRS would consider your $400 profit a long-term capital gain and tax it at one of several flat rates. However, if you sold the Company XYZ shares after just three months, the IRS would consider your $400 profit a short-term capital gain and tax that $400 at your ordinary income tax rate, which varies by several factors, including which state you live in, and is generally higher than the long-term capital gains tax rate. This system encourages long-term investing, but there are still many logical reasons an investor might want to sell an asset before a year has passed.

Some retirement vehicles, such as 401(k)s and IRAs, allow investors to buy and sell assets within these vehicles without becoming subject to capital gains tax. This tax deferral effectively gives investors a larger balance on which to compound interest or returns, with capital gains tax applying only when the investor begins to make withdrawals.

An investor's capital losses sometimes will offset all or a portion of his or her capital gains, lowering the investor's tax bill. There is a limit, however, to how much the investor can offset. Note also that the IRS does not treat the distributions of net realized long-term capital gains, like those from a mutual fund, for example, as capital gains. The IRS treats those as ordinary dividends.

Source: Investing Answers



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 \

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.

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\ˈgān \

Medical Definition of gain 

: to improve in health the patient gained daily



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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Comments on gain

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


to clear from alleged fault or guilt

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