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

  • transitive v. To gain especially for the performance of service, labor, or work: earned money by mowing lawns.
  • transitive v. To acquire or deserve as a result of effort or action: She earned a reputation as a hard worker.
  • transitive v. To yield as return or profit: a savings account that earns interest on deposited funds.
  • idiom spurs To gain a position through hard work and the accumulation of experience, often in the face of difficulties.
  • intransitive v. Obsolete To yearn.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • v. To gain (success, reward, recognition) through applied effort or work.
  • v. To receive payment for work.
  • v. To receive payment for work.
  • v. To cause (someone) to receive payment or reward
  • v. To be worthy of.
  • v. To curdle, as milk.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. See ern, n.
  • v. To grieve.
  • intransitive v. To long; to yearn.
  • intransitive v. To curdle, as milk.
  • transitive v. To merit or deserve, as by labor or service; to do that which entitles one to (a reward, whether the reward is received or not).
  • transitive v. To acquire by labor, service, or performance; to deserve and receive as compensation or wages

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To gain by labor, service, or performance; acquire; merit or deserve as compensation or reward for service, or as one's real or apparent desert; gain a right to or the possession of: as, to earn a dollar a day; to earn a fortune in trade; to earn the reputation of being stingy.
  • In base-ball, to gain or secure by batting or base-running, and not by the errors or bad play of opponents: as, one side scored 5, but had earned only 3 runs.
  • To glean.
  • To curdle, as milk.
  • To yearn.
  • Same as yearn.
  • n. An eagle.

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

  • v. acquire or deserve by one's efforts or actions
  • v. earn on some commercial or business transaction; earn as salary or wages


Middle English ernen, from Old English earnian.
Middle English ernen, variant of yernen; see yearn.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
Old English earnian (Wiktionary)
Anglo-Saxon irnan to run. See rennet, and compare yearnings. (Wiktionary)



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