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Webster 1913 Edition


Attain

At-tain′

(ăt-tān′)
,
Verb.
T.
[
imp. & p. p.
Attained
(-tānd′)
;
p. pr. & vb. n.
Attaining
.]
[Of.
atteinen
,
atteignen
,
atainen
, OF.
ateindre
,
ataindre
, F.
atteindre
, fr. L.
attingere
;
ad
+
tangere
to touch, reach. See
Tangent
, and cf.
Attinge
,
Attaint
.]
1.
To achieve or accomplish, that is, to reach by efforts; to gain; to compass;
as, to
attain
rest
.
Is he wise who hopes to
attain
the end without the means?
Abp. Tillotson.
2.
To gain or obtain possession of; to acquire.
[Obs. with a material object.]
Chaucer.
3.
To get at the knowledge of; to ascertain.
[Obs.]
Not well
attaining
his meaning.
Fuller.
4.
To reach or come to, by progression or motion; to arrive at.
“Canaan he now attains.”
Milton.
5.
To overtake.
[Obs.]
Bacon.
6.
To reach in excellence or degree; to equal.
Syn. – To
Attain
,
Obtain
,
Procure
.
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.

At-tain′

,
Verb.
I.
1.
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
attain
to Phenice.
Acts xxvii. 12.
Nor nearer might the dogs
attain
.
Sir W. Scott.
To see your trees
attain
to the dignity of timber.
Cowper.
Few boroughs had as yet
attained
to power such as this.
J. R. Green.
2.
To come or arrive, by an effort of mind.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high, I can not
attain
unto it.
Ps. cxxxix. 6.

At-tain′

,
Noun.
Attainment.
[Obs.]

Webster 1828 Edition


Attain

ATTA'IN

,
Verb.
I.
[L. attingo, to reach, come to or overtake; ad and tango, to touch, reach or strike; that is, to thrust, urge or push to. it has no connection with L. attineo. See Class.]
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.

ATTA'IN

,
Verb.
T.
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.

Definition 2021


attain

attain

English

Verb

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.
    • Fuller
      not well attaining his meaning
  3. (transitive) To reach or come to, by progression or motion; to arrive at.
    • Milton
      Canaan he now attains.
    • Bible, Psalms cxxxix. 6
      Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high, I can not attain unto it.
  4. (intransitive) To come or arrive, by motion, growth, bodily exertion, or efforts toward a place, object, state, etc.; to reach.
    • Bible, Acts xxvii. 12
      if by any means they might attain to Phenice
    • Sir Walter Scott
      Nor nearer might the dogs attain.
    • Cowper
      to see your trees attain to the dignity of timber
    • 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 terms

Translations