per·​tain | \ pər-ˈtān How to pronounce pertain (audio) \
pertained; pertaining; pertains

Definition of pertain

intransitive verb

1a(1) : to belong as a part, member, accessory, or product
(2) : to belong as an attribute, feature, or function the destruction pertaining to war
(3) : to belong as a duty or right rights that pertain to fatherhood
b : to be appropriate to something which rule pertains?
2 : to have reference books pertaining to birds

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Synonyms for pertain


appertain, belong

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Did You Know?

Pertain comes to us via Anglo-French from the Latin verb pertinēre, meaning "to reach" to or "to belong." Pertinēre, in turn, was formed by combining the prefix per- (meaning "through") and tenēre ("to hold"). Tenēre is a popular root in English words and often manifests with the "-tain" spelling that can be seen in pertain. Other descendants include abstain, contain, detain, obtain, maintain, retain, and sustain, to name a few of the more common ones. Not every "-tain" word has tenēre in its ancestry, though. Ascertain, attain, and certain are among the exceptions. And a few tenēre words don't follow the usual pattern: tenacious and tenure are two.

Examples of pertain in a Sentence

books pertaining to the country's history the belief that quality medical care is a right that pertains to everyone

Recent Examples on the Web

Among the laws Trump could turn to is Section 2808 of the Title 10 U.S. Code pertaining to military construction. Jill Colvin, The Seattle Times, "AP Explains: Can Trump declare emergency to build his wall?," 8 Jan. 2019 The league has been assailed for years over safety issues, particularly pertaining to head injuries. Andrew Beaton, WSJ, "The NFL’s New Safety Rule Has Resulted in an Existential Crisis," 6 Aug. 2018 Winner and Travel Companion are solely responsible for their own conduct while accepting the Grand Prize and agree to comply with all applicable laws and regulations pertaining to use and enjoyment of the Grand Prize. CNN, "OFFICIAL RULES AND REGULATIONS," 12 June 2018 The state, however, sees it as contrary to a state law limiting what the public can see pertaining to executions. Mark Alesia, Indianapolis Star, "What Indiana officials want to keep secret about executions," 16 May 2018 But like any legislation pertaining to immigration in the past 30 years, Congress remains paralyzed on the issue so far. NBC News, "Senator seeks answers at the border," 26 June 2018 And inheritance laws do not just pertain to royals. Simon Perry,, "Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's Future Daughters Will Not Inherit Titles," 4 June 2018 Texas Texas has not recently considered legislation pertaining to sports gambling. Tom Schad, USA TODAY, "Your state-by-state guide to sports betting in light of Supreme Court ruling," 14 May 2018 If accepted, mentors will be trained in all areas pertaining to the program, and will receive ongoing support and training from the AHM Lanterns Mentoring Coordinator, Laurie Larsen. Courant Community, "Community News For The Colchester Edition," 8 May 2018

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

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

History and Etymology for pertain

Middle English perteinen, from Anglo-French partenir, purteiner, from Latin pertinēre to reach to, belong, from per- through + tenēre to hold — more at thin

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Statistics for pertain

Last Updated

12 Jun 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for pertain

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

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More Definitions for pertain



English Language Learners Definition of pertain

formal : to relate to someone or something : to have a connection to a person or thing


per·​tain | \ pər-ˈtān How to pronounce pertain (audio) \
pertained; pertaining

Kids Definition of pertain

1 : to relate to a person or thing The laws pertain to hunting.
2 : to belong to as a part, quality, or function These duties pertain to the office of sheriff.

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More from Merriam-Webster on pertain

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with pertain

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for pertain

Spanish Central: Translation of pertain

Nglish: Translation of pertain for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of pertain for Arabic Speakers

Comments on pertain

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behavior toward others

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