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 Whistleblower complaints pertain to a mischaracterisation of expenses, inflation or falsification of accounts, kickbacks, and corruption, etc. Abhyuday Agarwal, Quartz India, "Everything you need to know about whistleblowing in India beyond Infosys," 30 Oct. 2019 What’s on the Menu Prosperity Salad (Yusheng): This salad only really pertains to overseas Chinese, like Singaporeans or Malaysians who are Chinese. Simone Tong, Bon Appetit, "3 Recipes from Simone Tong’s Chinese New Year Menu," 12 Feb. 2018 Against the rules, but not the law Politico reported that many Liberty University employees and board members are required to sign nondisclosure agreements that bar them from openly discussing matters pertaining to the school or to Falwell. Kate Cox, Ars Technica, "Forwarding email is a crime, Jerry Falwell Jr. says after leaks to media," 12 Sep. 2019 Court records make clear that evidence under seal pertained to Purdue's marketing. NBC News, "How judges added to the grim toll of opioids," 25 June 2019 Within each specialized field or group, members vote on the awards pertaining to their own peers. Time, "Everything to Know About the 2019 Emmys," 17 Sep. 2019 Anything else pertaining to the United manager’s thoughts on the player is pure guesswork., "Paul Pogba: Report Claiming Man Utd Star Nearly Joined PSG This Summer Is Littered With Red Flags," 12 Sep. 2019 The council also approved amendments to the city’s legislative code pertaining to the Ford site zoning districts, site plan reviews, sign regulations and other technical aspects of property development. Frederick Melo, Twin Cities, "St. Paul City Council approves changes to Ford site," 12 Sep. 2019 The Science Committee is requesting all records of communication between Commerce Department officials, NOAA and the White House between Sept. 1 and Sept. 9 pertaining to the president's tweet and NOAA's Sept. 6 statement. oregonlive, "President Trump ordered NOAA statement supporting his inaccurate claim that Alabama was at risk from Dorian," 11 Sep. 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

27 Nov 2019

Cite this Entry

“Pertain.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 13 December 2019.

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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

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).


easily led, controlled, or managed

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