at·​tain | \ ə-ˈtān How to pronounce attain (audio) \
attained; attaining; attains

Definition of attain

transitive verb

1 : to reach as an end : gain, achieve attain a goal
2 : to come into possession of : obtain he attained preferment over his fellows
3 : to come to as the end of a progression or course of movement They attained the top of the hill. attain a ripe old age

intransitive verb

: to come or arrive by motion, growth, or effort usually used with to will probably attain to a height of six feet

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Other Words from attain

attainability \ ə-​ˌtā-​nə-​ˈbi-​lə-​tē How to pronounce attain (audio) \ noun
attainable \ ə-​ˈtā-​nə-​bəl How to pronounce attain (audio) \ adjective

Synonyms for attain


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Examples of attain in a Sentence

a quest to attain enlightenment She refused to let the injury keep her from attaining her goal of being in the Olympics. This kind of tree can attain a height of 20 feet within just a few years. The car can attain a top speed of 200 mph.
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Recent Examples on the Web This is not only an unprecedented number to attain the rank in one year for Troop 102, but also the first time that the troop has held a multi-scout Eagle Scout Court of Honor in its 22-year history. Courtney Mcgee,, 24 Aug. 2021 So even while Nigeria’s central bank (CBN) devalues the naira and creates a single exchange rate to attain stability, Nigerians do not trust that the currency will be strong in the future. Alexander Onukwue, Quartz, 24 Aug. 2021 Alabama is expected to win it every year, but perhaps nowhere are the goals more difficult to attain than at Auburn. Joseph Goodman |, al, 23 Aug. 2021 Bernstein was the first American celebrity conductor, the first to attain the kind of prestige associated with European maestros like Herbert von Karajan and Leopold Stokowski. Owen Gleiberman, Variety, 14 Aug. 2021 The fastest way to attain millionaire status is investments. Pauleanna Reid, Forbes, 21 June 2021 In accordance with Stuck’s wish that an Alaska Native be the first to attain the summit, Harper led the way on summit day. David James, Anchorage Daily News, 5 June 2021 The best way to attain true success is with true dedication and perseverance. Tribune Content Agency, oregonlive, 27 May 2021 And four years of strenuous training, with some bumps and bruises along the way, has put Dechristopher in a great position to attain some lofty goals. Buddy Collings,, 6 May 2021

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'attain.' 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 attain

14th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1

History and Etymology for attain

Middle English atteynen, from Anglo-French ateign-, stem of ateindre to reach, accomplish, convict, from Vulgar Latin *attangere, alteration of Latin attingere, from ad- + tangere to touch — more at tangent entry 2

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Time Traveler for attain

Time Traveler

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

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Last Updated

8 Oct 2021

Cite this Entry

“Attain.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 17 Oct. 2021.

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More Definitions for attain



English Language Learners Definition of attain

: to accomplish or achieve (something) : to succeed in getting or doing (something)
: to grow or increase to (a particular amount, size, etc.) : reach


at·​tain | \ ə-ˈtān How to pronounce attain (audio) \
attained; attaining

Kids Definition of attain

1 : to accomplish or achieve attain a goal
2 : to come into possession of : obtain attain knowledge
3 : to reach or come to gradually : arrive at … surely no bug in all the Land of Oz had ever before attained so enormous a size.— L. Frank Baum, The Marvelous Land of Oz

Other Words from attain

attainable \ ə-​ˈtā-​nə-​bəl \ adjective

More from Merriam-Webster on attain

Nglish: Translation of attain for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of attain for Arabic Speakers


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