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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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 To take one criteria, volunteering, as an example: There are seven multi-part questions pertaining to how staff volunteer, with a total of 5.5 points on offer. Cassie Werber, Quartz at Work, "Danone is showing multinationals the way to a less destructive form of capitalism," 9 Dec. 2019 Around 120 pilots tendered their resignation recently after demands pertaining to salary hike and promotion went unheeded. Niharika Sharma, Quartz India, "It’s a gloomy Diwali this year for millions of public sector employees in India," 18 Oct. 2019 Awaiting transcription are documents pertaining to five suffrage leaders, among them Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, two giants of the movement. Brigit Katz, Smithsonian, "The Library of Congress Needs Your Help Transcribing Suffragist Papers," 31 July 2019 In March 2017, the school board members approved a one-year contract extension of the existing contract with the union, keeping most of it intact other than the portions pertaining to compensation and training. Rafael Guerrero, Elgin Courier-News, "Teachers union, U46 reach tentative contract agreement, union says," 9 May 2018 The case against Trump pertains to affairs of state, though. Ephrat Livni, Quartz, "The Trump and Clinton impeachments are as alike as apples and oranges," 17 Jan. 2020 Sarah Jimenez of the California Budget & Policy Center, which analyzes issues pertaining to low- and middle-income residents, offers a different take. Joe Garofoli,, "Here are the only-in-California questions to ask at Democrats’ debate," 19 Dec. 2019 Certain agency costs are non-negotiable, such as those pertaining to requirements laid out in the federal consent decree between Baltimore and the U.S. Department of Justice mandating sweeping police reforms. Talia Richman,, "Baltimore mayor tells agencies to anticipate cuts as city prepares to fund statewide plan to improve schools," 22 Nov. 2019 While Trump’s attack on the four Democratic congresswomen succeeded in uniting the party, other issues pertaining to race could test that harmony. John Fritze, USA TODAY, "Democrats unified against Donald Trump's racist tweets but remain divided over race," 20 July 2019

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

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

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Last Updated

6 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Pertain.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 16 Feb. 2020.

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More Definitions for pertain


How to pronounce pertain (audio)

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

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Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with pertain

Spanish Central: Translation of pertain

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Britannica English: Translation of pertain for Arabic Speakers

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