\ 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

The indictment also alleges Nhekairo concealed the immigrant’s status for purposes of financial gain and confiscated the victim’s passport to maintain her labor and services, according to prosecutors. Luke Broadwater,, "Federal prosecutors charge Anne Arundel County woman with harboring undocumented immigrant," 29 June 2018 The 4,720 feet of elevation gain challenge their vehicles: The air gets so thin, oxygen-dependent internal combustion engines lose about 30 percent of their power on the way up. Jack Stewart, WIRED, "VW's Electrifying Bid to Dominate a Mountain Race," 22 June 2018 That explains 58 percent of the performance gains, according to the researchers. Alex Hutchinson, Outside Online, "You’re Faster with Friends, Even Uphill," 20 June 2018 But at every point where his companies seem to be on stable footing, Musk takes on more and promises more, erasing the memory of past gains. Fortune, "Elon Musk Shoots for Mars — And Strains His Balance Sheet," 20 June 2018 Workers who have graduated only from high school made up less than 1 percent of the job gains. CBS News, "Why the robust economy doesn't reflect the reality for many Americans," 16 June 2018 With most of these governors set to remain in place during the next round of congressional and state legislative redistricting, the number of Democratic gains could be crucial. Ed Kilgore, Daily Intelligencer, "Democrats Hope For Big Gubernatorial Gains This November," 16 June 2018 Texas employers boosted their payrolls by another 35,000 positions in May, continuing a streak of job gains that began nearly two years ago, the Texas Worforce Commission reported Friday. Houston Chronicle Staff, Houston Chronicle, "Texas job growth beat goes on," 15 June 2018 Teasing out results The state law that created Opportunity Scholarships calls for an evaluation of the academic gains or losses of participating students. Ann Doss Helms, charlotteobserver, "Good test scores but too much Bible: Two views from research on NC school vouchers," 4 June 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

This is designed for adults who want to lose weight, get in shape and gain lean muscle. 6:45-7:30 a.m. Mondays-Thursdays. Mary Lou Cruz,, "Davie area events July 18-28," 14 July 2018 Read More Charlotte gaining momentum for 2020 GOP convention, officials say The Republican National Committee sent the city’s mayor’s office a letter on Dec. 8, asking Charlotte to bid. Steve Harrison And Jim Morrill, charlotteobserver, "Why did council Democrats wait to oppose RNC? An inside look at Charlotte’s bid.," 13 July 2018 The Crimson Tide capped off a dominant season on defense with a 21–0 shutout of LSU, which crossed midfield on offense exactly once all night and gained just 92 total yards against a defense brimming with NFL draft picks. Ben Ladner,, "The 10 Best National Championship Game Performances of the BCS Era," 13 July 2018 More Active managers have long argued volatility and falling indexes would help them gain on their passive rivals while showcasing their stock- and bond-picking skills. Justin Baer, WSJ, "The Investor Fever for Passive Funds Is Cooling in 2018," 13 July 2018 Every year since 2013, when Netflix gained entry into the ranks of prestige television by earning a now-meager-seeming 14 nominations for its original programming, the service's ascent has been written on the wall. Angela Watercutter, WIRED, "With 112 Emmy Nominations, Netflix Officially Rules Television," 12 July 2018 Ms Ocasio-Cortez also argues for abolishing the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency (ICE), which is charged with rounding up and deporting undocumented migrants—a position gaining popularity on the left of the party. The Economist, "The L wordWho is a Democrat?," 12 July 2018 The three films form something of a suite, each gaining in meaning from its relationship to the others. Ben Sachs, Chicago Reader, "Hong Sang-soo and Kim Min-hee's real-life affair yields a trio of films about infidelity," 12 July 2018 Merger arbitrage funds, which bet on whether corporate deals will come to fruition, gained 2.63 percent. James B. Stewart, New York Times, "Hedge Funds Should Be Thriving Right Now. They Aren’t.," 12 July 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

17 Sep 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).


occurring twice a year or every two years

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