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See also: Learn



Etymology 1[edit]

From Middle English lernen, from Old English leornian (to acquire knowledge), from Proto-Germanic *liznaną. Cognate with German lernen (to learn).


learn (third-person singular simple present learns, present participle learning, simple past and past participle learned or (chiefly UK) learnt)

  1. To acquire, or attempt to acquire knowledge or an ability to do something.
  2. To attend a course or other educational activity.
  3. To gain knowledge from a bad experience so as to improve.
    learn from one's mistakes
  4. To be studying.
  5. To come to know; to become informed of; to find out.
    He just learned that he will be sacked.
Usage notes[edit]
  • See other, dated and regional, sense of learn below.

Derived terms[edit]

The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout#Translations.

Etymology 2[edit]

Possibly related to Middle English leren, from Old English lǣran (to teach, instruct, indoctrinate), from Proto-Germanic *laizijaną (to teach), from *laizō (lore, teaching", literally, "track, trace), from Proto-Indo-European *leyəs- (to track, furrow). Cognate with Scots lere, leir, Saterland Frisian leere, West Frisian leare, Dutch leren, German lehren, Swedish lära. See also lear, lore. But normally the Middle English word would give lere, not learn.


learn (third-person singular simple present learns, present participle learning, simple past and past participle learned or learnt)

  1. (now only in non-standard speech and dialectal) To teach.
    Give him a clip round the ear. That'll learn him!
    • 1485, Sir Thomas Malory, chapter ix, in Le Morte Darthur, book VIII:
      And whan she had serched hym / she fond in the bottome of his wound that therin was poyson / And soo she heled hym [] / and therfore Tramtrist cast grete loue to la beale Isoud / for she was at that tyme the fairest mayde and lady of the worlde / And there Tramtryst lerned her to harpe / and she beganne to haue grete fantasye vnto hym
    • 1599, William Shakespeare, Much Ado About Nothing, Act 4 Scene 1
      Sweet prince, you learn me noble thankfulness.
    • circa 1611, William Shakespeare, Cymbeline, Act I Scene 5:
      Have I not been / Thy pupil long? Hast thou not learn’d me how / To make perfumes?
    • 1993, The Simpsons, (18 Feb. 1993) Lisa's thoughts:
      That'll learn him to bust my tomater.
Usage notes[edit]

Now often considered non-standard.

Derived terms[edit]
Related terms[edit]




Alternative forms[edit]


From Old High German lernēn, lirnēn, from Proto-Germanic *liznaną. Compare German lernen, English learn, Dutch leren.



  1. (Sappada, Sauris) to learn


  • “learn” in Patuzzi, Umberto, ed., (2013) Ünsarne Börtar [Our Words], Luserna, Italy: Comitato unitario delle linguistiche storiche germaniche in Italia / Einheitskomitee der historischen deutschen Sprachinseln in Italien




learn (third-person singular present learns, present participle learnin, past learnt, past participle learnt)

  1. To learn.
  2. To teach.