Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • transitive v. To gain as an objective; achieve: attain a diploma by hard work.
  • transitive v. To arrive at, as by virtue of persistence or the passage of time. See Synonyms at reach.
  • intransitive v. To succeed in a directed effort, process, or progression: attained to high office; eventually attained to wisdom.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • v. To accomplish; to achieve.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. Attainment.
  • intransitive v. To come or arrive, by motion, growth, bodily exertion, or efforts toward a place, object, state, etc.; to reach.
  • intransitive v. To come or arrive, by an effort of mind.
  • transitive v. To achieve or accomplish, that is, to reach by efforts; to gain; to compass.
  • transitive v. To gain or obtain possession of; to acquire.
  • transitive v. To get at the knowledge of; to ascertain.
  • transitive v. To reach or come to, by progression or motion; to arrive at.
  • transitive v. To overtake.
  • transitive v. To reach in excellence or degree; to equal.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To touch; strike; hit.
  • To touch upon; mention.
  • To convict; condemn. Compare attaint, v., 3-5.
  • To come so near as to touch; reach, achieve, or accomplish (an end or object) by continued effort; come into possession of; acquire; gain.
  • To come to or arrive at (a place); reach (a place, time, or state).
  • To reach in excellence or degree; equal.
  • To overtake; come up with: as, “not attaining him in time,” Bacon.
  • To come to know; experience.
  • To reach; come or arrive by motion, bodily or mental exertion, or efforts of any kind: followed by to or unto.
  • To pertain; have relation.
  • n. Something attained. Glanville.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • v. reach a destination, either real or abstract
  • v. reach a point in time, or a certain state or level
  • v. find unexpectedly
  • v. to gain with effort

Etymologies

Middle English atteignen, from Old French ataindre, ataign-, to reach to, from Vulgar Latin *attangere, from Latin attingere : ad-, ad- + tangere, to touch; see tag- in Indo-European roots.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Anglo-Norman ataindre, from Old French, from Latin attingō. (Wiktionary)

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