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

Synonyms for pertain


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Pertain comes to English 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, maintain, obtain, 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 Environmental stewardship can pertain to the perspective business leaders hold and the practices their organizations follow. Luke Jacobs, Forbes, 17 May 2022 Most of the inaccuracies pertain to descriptions of the first trimester. New York Times, 14 Feb. 2022 Recorded rights pertain to a specific recording, including the master tracks, while publishing rights comprise the song’s composition such as music and lyrics. Ethan Millman, Rolling Stone, 24 Jan. 2022 Recorded rights pertain to streaming and sales royalties of specific master recordings, whereas publishing rights apply to music and lyrics, usually tied to performances and use in film and television. Glenn Garner,, 24 Jan. 2022 Since clinching a postseason berth in late December, most of the questions Burrow fields pertain to his thoughts on defying previous narratives. Kelsey Conway, The Enquirer, 23 Jan. 2022 Much of the ordinance lays out requirements for facilities larger than 400,000 square feet and won’t pertain to the warehouse located next to Jurupa Hills High School. Tony Briscoestaff Writer, Los Angeles Times, 19 Apr. 2022 Although the rule would pertain to Broward’s unincorporated areas only, the ordinance gives its 31 cities the authority to enforce the ordinance with their code enforcement officers. Austen Erblat,, 13 Apr. 2022 Depp’s lawyers have argued that the law does not apply, because Heard’s claims pertain to Depp’s personal behavior and not to a broader issue. Gene Maddaus, Variety, 11 Apr. 2022 See More

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.

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

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Last Updated

21 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Pertain.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 26 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for pertain


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.

More from Merriam-Webster on pertain

Nglish: Translation of pertain for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of pertain for Arabic Speakers


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