learn

verb

learned ˈlərnd How to pronounce learn (audio) ˈlərnt How to pronounce learn (audio) ; learning

transitive verb

1
a(1)
: to gain knowledge or understanding of or skill in by study, instruction, or experience
learn a trade
learned to play chess
(2)
: memorize
learn the lines of a play
b
: to come to be able
learn to dance
c
: to come to realize
learned that honesty paid
2
a
nonstandard : teach
b
obsolete : to inform of something
3
: to come to know : hear
we just learned that he was ill

intransitive verb

: to acquire knowledge or skill or a behavioral tendency
were shocked to learn of her death
learnable adjective
learner noun
Can learn mean teach?: Usage Guide

Learn in the sense of "teach" dates from the 13th century and was standard until at least the early 19th.

made them drunk with true Hollands—and then learned them the art of making bargains Washington Irving

But by Mark Twain's time it was receding to a speech form associated chiefly with the less educated.

never done nothing for three months but set in his back yard and learn that frog to jump Mark Twain

The present-day status of learn has not risen. This use persists in speech, but in writing it appears mainly in the representation of such speech or its deliberate imitation for effect.

Choose the Right Synonym for learn

discover, ascertain, determine, unearth, learn mean to find out what one did not previously know.

discover may apply to something requiring exploration or investigation or to a chance encounter.

discovered the source of the river

ascertain implies effort to find the facts or the truth proceeding from awareness of ignorance or uncertainty.

attempts to ascertain the population of the region

determine emphasizes the intent to establish the facts definitely or precisely.

unable to determine the origin of the word

unearth implies bringing to light something forgotten or hidden.

unearth old records

learn may imply acquiring knowledge with little effort or conscious intention (as by simply being told) or it may imply study and practice.

I learned her name only today
learning Greek

Examples of learn in a Sentence

People learn throughout their lives. I can't swim yet, but I'm learning. She's interested in learning French. We had to learn the rules of the game. I'm trying to learn my lines for the play. We had to learn the names of the state capitals. She learned through a letter that her father had died. I later learned that they had never called. We finally learned the truth about what had happened.
Recent Examples on the Web As more people become aware of accessory dwelling units and learn the permitting process, Jeffreys thinks their popularity in the city will increase. Killian Baarlaer, The Enquirer, 14 July 2024 Teachers at such schools say most districts fail to appreciate that children in poor neighborhoods, like all children, learn more from demanding classes than from easy ones. Jay Mathews, Washington Post, 13 July 2024 Investigators later learned that the intruder was a handyman named Michael Miller — who Randolph hired to kill Sharon, his sixth wife, in order to collect more than $300,000 in insurance money, prosecutors said, per the outlet. Nicole Acosta, Peoplemag, 13 July 2024 Murder, birth and test scores: What scientists are learning about extreme heat. Kevinisha Walker, Los Angeles Times, 13 July 2024 See all Example Sentences for learn 

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'learn.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

Etymology

Middle English lernen, from Old English leornian; akin to Old High German lernēn to learn, Old English last footprint, Latin lira furrow, track

First Known Use

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1a(1)

Time Traveler
The first known use of learn was before the 12th century

Dictionary Entries Near learn

Cite this Entry

“Learn.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/learn. Accessed 19 Jul. 2024.

Kids Definition

learn

verb
learned ˈlərnd How to pronounce learn (audio) ˈlərnt How to pronounce learn (audio) ; learning
1
: to gain knowledge or understanding of or skill in by study, instruction, or experience
2
: memorize
learn the lines of a play
3
a
: to come to be able to
learn to swim
b
: to come to realize
4
substandard : to cause to learn : teach
5
6
: to acquire knowledge
never too late to learn
learnable adjective
learner noun

Medical Definition

learn

verb
learned ˈlərnd How to pronounce learn (audio) ˈlərnt How to pronounce learn (audio) also learnt ˈlərnt How to pronounce learn (audio) ; learning

transitive verb

: to acquire (a change in behavior) by learning

intransitive verb

: to acquire a behavioral tendency by learning
learner noun

More from Merriam-Webster on learn

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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