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From Anglo-Norman ataindre, from Old French, from Latin attingō.
attain (third-person singular simple present attains, present participle attaining, simple past and past participle attained)
- (transitive) To gain (an object or desired result).
- Synonyms: accomplish, achieve, get
- To attain such a high level of proficiency requires hours of practice each day.
- 1595 December 9 (first known performance), William Shakespeare, “The life and death of King Richard the Second”, in Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies: Published According to the True Originall Copies (First Folio), London: […] Isaac Iaggard, and Ed[ward] Blount, published 1623, →OCLC, [Act II, scene iii]:
- Lord Ross. Your presence makes us rich, most noble lord. / Lord Willoughby. And far surmounts our labour to attain it.
- 1847 January – 1848 July, William Makepeace Thackeray, chapter 63, in Vanity Fair […], London: Bradbury and Evans […], published 1848, →OCLC, page 572:
- […] he will stick at no falsehood, or hesitate at no crime, to attain his ends.
- 1885, W[illiam] S[chwenck] Gilbert; Arthur Sullivan, composer, chapter I, in […] The Mikado; or, The Town of Titipu, London: Chappel & Co., […], →OCLC, Act I, page 6:
- […] that’s the highest rank a citizen can attain!
- 1937, George Orwell, The Road to Wigan Pier, New York: Harcourt, Brace, 1958, Part 1, Chapter 5, p. 82,
- [S]olitude is never easy to attain in a working-class home
- 1964 July, S. W. Smart, “The Southern needs no centralised Control”, in Modern Railways, page 50:
- But an absolutely right time arrival of all trains on the same day is never attained.
- 2007, Mohsin Hamid, chapter 11, in The Reluctant Fundamentalist, Orlando: Harcourt, page 157:
- Where else could I […] hope to attain such an impressive income?
- (transitive) To reach or come to, by progression or motion; to arrive at (a place, time, state, etc.).
- 1599 (first performance), William Shakespeare, “The Tragedie of Iulius Cæsar”, in Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies […] (First Folio), London: […] Isaac Iaggard, and Ed[ward] Blount, published 1623, →OCLC, [Act V, scene v]:
- […] my bones would rest, / That have but labour’d to attain this hour.
- 1667, John Milton, “Book X”, in Paradise Lost. […], London: […] [Samuel Simmons], […], →OCLC; republished as Paradise Lost in Ten Books: […], London: Basil Montagu Pickering […], 1873, →OCLC, line 1026:
- Canaan he now attains,
- 1791 (date written), Mary Wollstonecraft, chapter 4, in A Vindication of the Rights of Woman: With Strictures on Political and Moral Subjects, 1st American edition, Boston, Mass.: […] Peter Edes for Thomas and Andrews, […], published 1792, →OCLC:
- It has also been asserted, by some naturalists, that men do not attain their full growth and strength till thirty; but that women arrive at maturity by twenty.
- 1818, [Mary Shelley], chapter III, in Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus. […], volume I, London: […] [Macdonald and Son] for Lackington, Hughes, Harding, Mavor, & Jones, →OCLC:
- the southern gales […] blow us speedily towards those shores which I so ardently desire to attain
- (intransitive) To come or arrive, by motion, growth, bodily exertion, or efforts toward a place, object, state, etc.
- 1611, The Holy Bible, […] (King James Version), London: […] Robert Barker, […], →OCLC, Psalm 139:6:
- Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high, I can not attain unto it.
- 1611, The Holy Bible, […] (King James Version), London: […] Robert Barker, […], →OCLC, Acts 27:12:
- if by any means they might attain to Phenice
- 1782, William Cowper, letter to Joseph Hill dated 11 November, 1782, in Private Correspondence of William Cowper, London: Henry Colburn, 1824, Volume 1, p. 222,
- You may not, perhaps, live to see your trees attain to the dignity of timber—I, nevertheless, approve of your planting, and the disinterested spirit that prompts you to it.
- 1810, Walter Scott, “Canto I. The Chase.”, in The Lady of the Lake; a Poem, Edinburgh: […] [James Ballantyne and Co.] for John Ballantyne and Co.; London: Longman, Hurst, Rees, and Orme, and William Miller, →OCLC, stanza 7, page 10:
- For, scarce a spear’s length from his haunch, / Vindictive toiled the blood-hounds staunch; / Nor nearer might the dogs attain, / Nor farther might the quarry strain.
- 1874, John Richard Green, A Short History of the English People, London: Macmillan, Chapter 2, Section 6, p. 90,
- Few boroughs had as yet attained to power such as this,
- (transitive, obsolete) To get at the knowledge of.
- Synonym: ascertain
- 1655, Thomas Fuller, “Section II”, in James Nichols, editor, The Church History of Britain, […], new edition, volume (please specify |volume=I to III), London: […] [James Nichols] for Thomas Tegg and Son, […], published 1837, →OCLC:
- […] Master Camden, sometimes acknowledgeth, sometimes denieth him for an English Earle. Not that I accuse him as inconstant to himself, but suspect my self not well attaining his meaning therein.
- (transitive, obsolete) To reach in excellence or degree.
- Synonym: equal
- 1625, Francis [Bacon], “Of Innovations”, in The Essayes […], 3rd edition, London: […] Iohn Haviland for Hanna Barret, →OCLC, page 139:
- Yet notwithstanding as Those that first bring Honour into their Family, are commonly more worthy, then most that succeed: So the first President (if it be good) is seldome attained by Imitation.
- (transitive, obsolete) To reach a person after being behind them.
- Synonyms: catch up with, overtake
- 1622, Francis, Lord Verulam, Viscount St. Alban [i.e. Francis Bacon], The Historie of the Raigne of King Henry the Seventh, […], London: […] W[illiam] Stansby for Matthew Lownes, and William Barret, →OCLC, page page-174:
- The Earle finding […] the enemie retired, pursued with all celeritie into Scotland; hoping to haue ouer-taken the Scottish King, and to haue giuen him Battaile; But not attaining him in time, sate downe before the Castle of Aton […] which in a small time hee tooke.
to accomplish; to achieve
- English terms derived from Proto-Indo-European
- English terms derived from the Proto-Indo-European root *teh₂g- (touch)
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