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


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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 That provision would pertain only to nonexpansion states, because low-income women in expansion states are already eligible for Medicaid. Michael Ollove,, "Stimulus check updates: COVID-19 relief package includes expansion of health care coverage, $1,400 checks for many, increase to $15 federal minimum wage," 20 Feb. 2021 The ordinance would only pertain to non-payment of rent. cleveland, "South Euclid council paves way to keep commercial buildings maintained, occupied," 26 Jan. 2021 Vegas Golden Knights general manager Kelly McCrimmon's responsibilities mostly pertain to roster construction and management. Chris Bumbaca, USA TODAY, "Golden Knights GM Kelly McCrimmon coaches team while staff is absent due to 'abundance of caution'," 28 Jan. 2021 Dollar limits for bidding, and the question of whether those amounts should pertain to engineering design fees or total project costs, will be determined in another, January, meeting of Berns’ Public Works Committee. cleveland, "Beachwood councilmen clash in matter of bids for engineering work," 22 Dec. 2020 Other restrictions pertain to how players interact pregame and postgame, how teams structure their seating charts on flights and how teams administer treatment — including physical therapy and massages. Connor Letourneau,, "Warriors’ game vs. Suns postponed due to coronavirus contact tracing," 13 Jan. 2021 Morgante said most of the public comments received on the wetlands permit did not pertain to the project’s specific impact on the South Prong. Christine Condon,, "Eastern Shore gas pipeline project gets key environmental approval from Maryland’s Board of Public Works," 2 Dec. 2020 Despite Ross’ vote, the sign, along with other zoning ordinances that pertain to additional signage and outdoor storage and display were approved. Erin Yarnall,, "Gurnee OKs tax rebate to keep car dealership in town," 22 Dec. 2020 But the first questions don’t pertain to star power. Dave Hyde,, "Hyde: It looks the same, but it’s all different as Heat try to run it back | Commentary," 22 Dec. 2020

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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Time Traveler for pertain Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for pertain

Last Updated

26 Feb 2021

Cite this Entry

“Pertain.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 8 Mar. 2021.

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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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