See also: Earn and EARN


Etymology 1Edit

From Old English earnian, from Middle English ernen, from Proto-West Germanic *aʀanōn, from Proto-Germanic *azanōną.



earn (third-person singular simple present earns, present participle earning, simple past and past participle earned or (chiefly UK) earnt)

  1. (transitive) To gain (success, reward, recognition) through applied effort or work.
    You can have the s'mores: you earned them, clearing the walkway of snow so well.
    • 1910, Emerson Hough, chapter II, in The Purchase Price: Or The Cause of Compromise, Indianapolis, Ind.: The Bobbs-Merrill Company, OCLC 639762314, page 0147:
      Carried somehow, somewhither, for some reason, on these surging floods, were these travelers, of errand not wholly obvious to their fellows, yet of such sort as to call into query alike the nature of their errand and their own relations. It is easily earned repetition to state that Josephine St. Auban's was a presence not to be concealed.
    • 2011 November 12, “International friendly: England 1-0 Spain”, in BBC Sport:
      England will not be catapulted among the favourites for Euro 2012 as a result of this win, but no victory against Spain is earned easily and it is right they take great heart from their efforts as they now prepare to play Sweden at Wembley on Tuesday.
  2. (transitive) To receive payment for work.
    He earns seven million dollars a year as CEO.  My bank account is only earning one percent interest.
    (Can we add an example for this sense?)
  3. (intransitive) To receive payment for work.
    Now that you are earning, you can start paying me rent.
  4. (transitive) To cause (someone) to receive payment or reward.
    My CD earns me six percent!
    • 1965, James Holledge, What Makes a Call Girl?, London: Horwitz Publications, page 99:
      '[T]hough I earned her a lot of money, I have nothing but regrets for what I did.'
  5. (transitive) To achieve by being worthy of.
    to earn a spot in the top 20
  • (gain through applied effort or work): deserve, merit, garner, win
  • ((transitive) receive payment for work):
  • ((intransitive) receive payment for work):
  • (cause someone to receive payment or reward): yield, make, generate, render
Derived termsEdit

Etymology 2Edit

From Old English irnan (to run). See rennet, and compare yearnings.


earn (third-person singular simple present earns, present participle earning, simple past and past participle earned)

  1. (Britain, dialect, dated) To curdle, as milk.

Etymology 3Edit

(This etymology is missing or incomplete. Please add to it, or discuss it at the Etymology scriptorium.)


earn (third-person singular simple present earns, present participle earning, simple past and past participle earned)

  1. (obsolete) To long; to yearn.
  2. (obsolete) To grieve.

Etymology 4Edit


earn (plural earns)

  1. Alternative form of erne
    (Can we find and add a quotation of Sir Walter Scott to this entry?)

Part or all of this entry has been imported from the 1913 edition of Webster’s Dictionary, which is now free of copyright and hence in the public domain. The imported definitions may be significantly out of date, and any more recent senses may be completely missing.
(See the entry for earn in
Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary, G. & C. Merriam, 1913.)


Old EnglishEdit


From Proto-Germanic *arô, from Proto-Indo-European *h₃érō (eagle, large bird). Cognate with Old Frisian *ern, Old Saxon *arn, Old Dutch *arn, Old High German arn, Old Norse ǫrn, Gothic 𐌰𐍂𐌰 (ara); and, outside the Germanic languages, with Ancient Greek ὄρνις (órnis, bird), Old Armenian որոր (oror, gull), Old Irish irar, Lithuanian erẽlis, Old Church Slavonic орьлъ (orĭlŭ).


  • IPA(key): /æ͜ɑrn/, [æ͜ɑrˠn]


earn m

  1. eagle



  • English: erne

West FrisianEdit


From Old Frisian *ern, from Proto-Germanic *arô, from Proto-Indo-European *h₃érō.


earn c (plural earnen, diminutive earntsje)

  1. eagle
  2. (figurative) miser

Further readingEdit

  • earn”, in Wurdboek fan de Fryske taal (in Dutch), 2011