per·​tain | \ pər-ˈtān \
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

Three individuals with information pertaining to the suspect’s employment confirmed the name used to hire and pay him during his time at the farm. Elizabeth Zwirz, Fox News, "Mollie Tibbetts' suspected killer reportedly used alias 'John Budd' at work," 6 Sep. 2018 Anyone with information pertaining to Martin’s case is urged to call the Virginia Beach Police Department at 757-385-4141., "Was a Missing College Grad's Decomposed Body Found in the Same Neighborhood She Vanished From?," 28 June 2018 The LMAS Animal Control Divison is investigating, and the non-profit Friends of Metro Animal Services is offering a $500 reward for information pertaining to the case. Gabe Hauari, The Courier-Journal, "Someone shot this poor dog with an arrow. Got info? Here's how to help," 25 June 2018 Anyone with information pertaining to Bishop's whereabouts is asked to call the Chesterfield Township Police at 586-949-2322. Marc Daalder, Detroit Free Press, "Chesterfield Township Police to conduct search for missing teen," 8 June 2018 Even though Beetem allowed for information pertaining to donor identity to be redacted, the fear remained. Jason Hancock, kansascity, "Missouri House drops effort to get documents from Greitens' secretive nonprofit," 6 June 2018 On December 26, the Department of Justice announced that due to lack of funding, immigration court hearings not pertaining to people in detention centers will have to be pushed back. Isabella Gomez, Teen Vogue, "5 Ways the Government Shutdown Is Impacting Americans," 3 Jan. 2019 The brand had even included items from the hair care company on a mood board pertaining to possible launch ideas for Summer Fridays. Lauren Rearick, Teen Vogue, "You Can Now Mask Your Entire Head for $22," 18 Dec. 2018 There were other issues pervading the aircraft, pertaining to its airspeed and altitude sensors, the report noted. Sam Blum, Popular Mechanics, "Lion Air Pilots Tried to Override Technical Glitch Before Fatal Crash," 28 Nov. 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

23 Jan 2019

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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 \
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

What made you want to look up pertain? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


a servile follower or underling

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