\ 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

Keep scrolling for more

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.
See More
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun When the Titans defeated the Chiefs 35-32 in a regular-season game on Nov. 10, Clark made four tackles, including two on Henry after gains of 7 and 2 yards for Tennessee. Mark Inabinett |, al, "Chiefs’ Frank Clark on Derrick Henry: ‘I don’t see no difficulty in tackling him’," 19 Jan. 2020 The large gains for technology stocks come with these companies rising to the forefront of the world economy and entering new arenas such as health care and transportation. Francesca Fontana, WSJ, "JPMorgan Chase, FedEx, Alphabet: Stocks That Defined the Week," 18 Jan. 2020 More gains for the band will be reflected on the Jan. 25-dated Billboard charts, following full sales and streaming tracking weeks encompassing Jan. 10-16. Kevin Rutherford, Billboard, "Rush Claims 23 of 25 Spots on LyricFind Global Chart After Neil Peart's Death," 16 Jan. 2020 All three showed excellent gains for the quarter, with Dell’s unit sales climbing by nearly 11 percent, according to IDC's estimates. Mark Hachman, PCWorld, "The PC market, once left for dead, actually grew during 2019," 14 Jan. 2020 Big rallies usually not followed by busts Large calendar-year gains for the stock market aren't all that uncommon, which might bode well for 2020. Russ Wiles, azcentral, "What to expect for stocks in 2020: After a hot 2019, market backdrop still looks favorable," 12 Jan. 2020 Average monthly jobs gains for all of last year were 176,000, compared to 223,000 in 2018. Rachel Siegel, Anchorage Daily News, "Women outnumber men in the American workforce, for only the second time in history," 11 Jan. 2020 Average monthly jobs gains for all of last year were 176,000, compared with 223,000 in 2018. Dallas News, "Women outnumber men in U.S. workforce for only the second time in history," 10 Jan. 2020 Last year marked the seventh consecutive year of price gains for the suburbs, and’s Rich Exner has all the information in a searchable database. Cliff Pinckard, cleveland, "Plastic bags still reign in Cuyahoga County, despite ban: The Wake Up for Wednesday, Jan. 8, 2020," 8 Jan. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb For all its failings and millennial-marketing trappings, Evryman offers a program that can help men who otherwise wouldn’t examine themselves gain a cursory sense of emotional intelligence. Susan Choi, Harper's magazine, "Letters," 6 Jan. 2020 Not to do so would be a sign of weakness that could jeopardize the enormous influence Iran has gained in the region over the past four decades. Liz Sly, Anchorage Daily News, "Iran has vowed revenge against the U.S. But it seems to be in no hurry.," 5 Jan. 2020 The Sun Belt Conference runner-up — the Ragin’ Cajuns posted a 10-3 record, losing twice to Top 25 member Appalachian State, including the league title game — has a potent offense, one that has gained the attention of Miami’s staff and players. Tommy Hicks,, "Here's how the Miami Redhawks stack up against the Louisiana-Layfayette Ragin' Cajuns," 4 Jan. 2020 Through such efforts Europe can address the inefficiencies that result from having different military organizations, reducing duplication and waste while gaining value. Ryan Meilak, National Review, "A New Year’s Resolution for the Transatlantic Community," 3 Jan. 2020 Finally, there are candidates who gain stature in defeat, who emerge as important voices and change the tenor of a contest simply by lending their presence to it: Eugene McCarthy in 1968, Mo Udall in 1976 and John McCain in 2000. Gilbert Garcia,, "Garcia: As a presidential contender, Julián Castro left it all on the field," 2 Jan. 2020 Will win: Phoenix lost the weight (50 pounds!) and gained all the crazy for his Joker role; it’s by far the showiest and most HFPA-friendly performance on the roster. Kristen Baldwin,, "2020 Golden Globe winner predictions: EW picks who should and who will win," 2 Jan. 2020 As oat milk gained popularity, the base caught Van Leeuwen’s eye. Naomi Tomky, Fortune, "Peak Plant-Based Ice Cream Is Here," 1 Jan. 2020 Five-star lineman Justin Rogers is the favorite to play early from that group, but four-star North Hardin star Octavious Oxendine could gain an early lead in the competition after enrolling for the spring semester. Jon Hale, The Courier-Journal, "A closer look at who could replace Lynn Bowden and 2019 seniors for Kentucky football," 1 Jan. 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.

See More

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.

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about gain

Time Traveler for gain

Time Traveler

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

See more words from the same century

Statistics for gain

Last Updated

22 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Gain.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 22 January 2020.

Keep scrolling for more

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


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.

Keep scrolling for more

\ ˈgān How to pronounce gain (audio) \

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

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on gain

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for gain

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with gain

Spanish Central: Translation of gain

Nglish: Translation of gain for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of gain for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about gain

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 help to grow, develop, or succeed

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Intact Latin Quiz

  • roman tablet
  • What did focus mean in Latin?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Dictionary Devil

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!