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 This month, consider how your life has changed in the past two years, especially pertaining to your creative pursuits. Aliza Kelly Faragher, Allure, "What August's Aries Horoscope Means for You," 30 July 2018 There is also limited funding for grants of $1,500 to $5,000 pertaining to music programs. Elizabeth Marie Himchak, Rancho Bernardo, "Rancho Bernardo grants to focus on health and wellness," 4 Apr. 2018 But even on television the laws of physics pertain: the person under observation is necessarily changed by it. Miranda Popkey, The New Yorker, "How “Love Is Blind” Transcends the Norms of Reality Television," 16 Mar. 2020 The order does pertain to churches with congregations larger than 500, unless the services are broken into smaller groups. Nic Garcia, Dallas News, "Malls yes, churches no: What we know about Dallas’ coronavirus-related ban on large gatherings," 13 Mar. 2020 The complaint in Oakland County pertains to Open Meeting Act violations. Christina Hall, Detroit Free Press, "DIA millage passes in Wayne, Oakland, Macomb counties," 11 Mar. 2020 The case before the Supreme Court pertains to Louisiana. Bill Hutchinson, ABC News, "Nathaniel Woods' execution cast scrutiny on Alabama's death penalty. So why is the cop killer who pulled the trigger still alive?," 7 Mar. 2020 The appeals rulings pertain to the issuance of the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant Program. Larry Neumeister, USA TODAY, "Federal appeals court sides with Trump in ‘sanctuary cities’ grant fight," 27 Feb. 2020 Melissa Morris, the man’s attorney, said in an interview Friday that he was previously hospitalized for issues pertaining to his mental health, including bipolar disorder. Michael Brice-saddler, Washington Post, "Officers who led a black suspect through the streets won’t be criminally investigated, state says," 16 Aug. 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

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for pertain

Last Updated

2 Apr 2020

Cite this Entry

“Pertain.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 9 Apr. 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

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for pertain

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with pertain

Spanish Central: Translation of pertain

Nglish: Translation of pertain for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of pertain for Arabic Speakers

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