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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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 At least 12 states have laws that pertain specifically to nonconsensual image sharing. Annie Lane, oregonlive, 26 Sep. 2021 All of her recommendations pertain only to people who initially got the Pfizer shot. Compiled Democrat-gazette Staff From Wire Reports, Arkansas Online, 25 Sep. 2021 The new charges pertain to a series of three deadly attacks on politicians in 2004 and 2005. Cnn Editorial Research, CNN, 18 July 2021 The charges pertain to attacks on the home and vehicles of Eddie and Candace Hall the week of Sept. 7. Christina Hall, Detroit Free Press, 13 July 2021 Among the documents the group is looking for are findings that pertain to the FBI investigation that concluded in 2016, which investigated Saudi links to the attacks. Sam Dorman, Fox News, 6 Aug. 2021 And Flores’ impatience doesn’t just pertain to his coaches., 23 Aug. 2021 Wednesday's order does not pertain to records held by Cyber Ninjas. Ryan Randazzo, The Arizona Republic, 19 Aug. 2021 The decision did not pertain to Princess Estelle and Prince Oscar — the children of Crown Princess Victoria, who is heir to the throne, and her husband Prince Daniel. Stephanie Petit,, 23 July 2021

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

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Last Updated

30 Sep 2021

Cite this Entry

“Pertain.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 20 Oct. 2021.

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English Language Learners Definition of pertain

: 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.

More from Merriam-Webster on pertain

Nglish: Translation of pertain for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of pertain for Arabic Speakers


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