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From Anglo-Norman ataindre, from Old French, from Latin attingō.


  • IPA(key): /əˈteɪn/
  • (file)
  • Rhymes: -eɪn


attain (third-person singular simple present attains, present participle attaining, simple past and past participle attained)

  1. (transitive) To accomplish; to achieve.
    To attain such a high level of proficiency requires hours of practice each day.
  2. To get at the knowledge of; to ascertain.
    • (Can we date this quote?) Fuller
      not well attaining his meaning
  3. (transitive) To reach or come to, by progression or motion; to arrive at.
  4. (intransitive) To come or arrive, by motion, growth, bodily exertion, or efforts toward a place, object, state, etc.; to reach.
    • Bible, Psalms cxxxix. 6
      Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high, I can not attain unto it.
    • Bible, Acts xxvii. 12
      if by any means they might attain to Phenice
    • (Can we date this quote?) Sir Walter Scott
      Nor nearer might the dogs attain.
    • (Can we date this quote?) Cowper
      to see your trees attain to the dignity of timber
    • (Can we date this quote?) J. R. Green
      Few boroughs had as yet attained to power such as this.
  5. To reach in excellence or degree; to equal.
  6. (obsolete) To overtake.
    (Can we find and add a quotation of Francis Bacon to this entry?)

Derived termsEdit

Related termsEdit