Webster 1913 Edition
imp. & p. p.
p. pr. & vb. n.
To achieve or accomplish, that is, to reach by efforts; to gain; to compass;
Is he wise who hopes to
attainthe end without the means?
To gain or obtain possession of; to acquire.
[Obs. with a material object.]
To get at the knowledge of; to ascertain.
To reach or come to, by progression or motion; to arrive at.“Canaan he now attains.”
To reach in excellence or degree; to equal.
Attain always implies an effort toward an object. Hence it is not synonymous with obtain and procure, which do not necessarily imply such effort or motion. We procure or obtain a thing by purchase or loan, and we obtain by inheritance, but we do not attain it by such means.
To come or arrive, by motion, growth, bodily exertion, or efforts toward a place, object, state, etc.; to reach.
If by any means they might
Acts xxvii. 12.
Nor nearer might the dogs
Sir W. Scott.
To see your trees
attainto the dignity of timber.
Few boroughs had as yet
attainedto power such as this.
J. R. Green.
To come or arrive, by an effort of mind.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high, I can not
Ps. cxxxix. 6.
Webster 1828 Edition
1.To reach; to come to or arrive at, by motion, bodily exertion, or efforts towards a place or object.
If by any means they might attain to Phenice. Acts 28.
2.To reach; to come to or arrive at, by an effort of mind.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high; I cannot attain to it. Ps. 139.
Regularly this verb should be always followed by to; the omission of to, and the use of the verb, in a transitive sense, may have originated in mistake, from the opinion that the verb is from the L. attineo, and equivalent to obtain.
1.To gain; to compass; to achieve or accomplish, that is, to reach by efforts; without to following.
Is he wise who hopes to attain the end without the means?
This use of the verb is now established; but in strictness to is here implied; attain to the end. The real sense, as in the intransitive use of the verb is, to reach or come to the end or purpose in view. This word always implies an effort towards an object. Hence it is not synonymous with obtain and procure, which do not necessarily imply such effort. We procure or obtain a thing by purchase or loan, and we obtain by inheritance, but we do not attain it by such means. An inattention to this distinction has led good authors into great mistakes in the use of this word.
2.To reach or come to a place or object by progression or motion.
But ere such tidings shall his ears attain.
Canaan he now attains.
3.To reach in excellence or degree; to equal.