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

Keep scrolling for more

Synonyms for pertain


appertain, belong

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

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

If accepted, mentors will be trained in all areas pertaining to the program, and will receive ongoing support and training from the AHM Lanterns Mentoring Coordinator, Laurie Larsen. Courant Community, "Community News For The Colchester Edition," 8 May 2018 And that issue pertaining to enforcement is a big issue. Rachel Withers, Vox, "George H.W. Bush was a champion for people with disabilities," 2 Dec. 2018 Every winner the past 83 years is still around, which raises an interesting issue pertaining to our city. Geoff Baker, The Seattle Times, "Reviving ‘Metropolitans’ name for NHL could work, but might want to skip that 1917 Stanley Cup banner," 15 Oct. 2018 The director of The Heritage Foundation’s Center for Data Analysis, Norbert J. Michel specializes in issues pertaining to financial markets and monetary policy. Norbert J. Michel, Fortune, "It’s Time to Just Kill the Volcker Rule," 4 June 2018 Issues pertaining to children have traditionally presented a line, even for hardcore immigration opponents. Eugene Scott, Washington Post, "Treatment and rhetoric about undocumented children put the Trump administration in a new category on hard-line immigration policy," 25 May 2018 The organization regularly raised concerns over citations issued by the U.S. Department of Agriculture over issues pertaining to the handling of the bears, including during photo opportunities with the public. Kimberly Rapanut, azcentral, "Bears find refuge in Arizona after life in Texas traveling act," 17 May 2018 Billboard spoke to Reid about a variety of issues pertaining to the awards and his role at CARAS, from increasing membership to gender parity. Karen Bliss, Billboard, "Canadian Recording Academy CEO Allan Reid Talks Juno Awards, Gender Equality & Artists Speaking Out," 23 Mar. 2018 The judge and the lawyers will convene this afternoon to hammer out legal issues pertaining to the jury instructions. Patrick Danner, San Antonio Express-News, "Lawyers for Uresti’s co-defendant rest their case," 15 Feb. 2018

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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about pertain

Listen to Our Podcast about pertain

Statistics for pertain

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for pertain

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

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for pertain



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.

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on pertain

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with pertain

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for 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).


a sum of money that is sent as a payment

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Time Traveler Quiz: Which Word Came First?

  • time traveler quiz which word came first
  • Which came first?
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!


Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!