verb per·tain \ pər-ˈtān \
|Updated on: 21 Aug 2018

Definition of pertain

pertained; pertaining; pertains
1 a (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

pertain was our Word of the Day on 05/25/2013. Hear the podcast!

Examples of pertain in a Sentence

  1. books pertaining to the country's history

  2. the belief that quality medical care is a right that pertains to everyone

Recent Examples of pertain from the Web

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.

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.

Origin and Etymology of 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

pertain Synonyms


appertain, apply, bear, refer, relate;


have to do with;

PERTAIN Defined for English Language Learners


Definition of pertain for English Language Learners

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

PERTAIN Defined for Kids


verb per·tain \ pər-ˈtān \

Definition of pertain for Students

pertained; pertaining
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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resembling the blue of the sky

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