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

  • adv. Happily; gladly: "I would fain improve every opportunity to wonder and worship, as a sunflower welcomes the light” ( Henry David Thoreau).
  • adv. Archaic Preferably; rather.
  • adj. Archaic Ready; willing.
  • adj. Archaic Pleased; happy.
  • adj. Archaic Obliged or required.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • adj. Well-pleased; glad; apt; wont; fond; inclined.
  • adj. Satisfied; contented.
  • adv. With joy; gladly.
  • v. To be delighted or glad; to rejoice
  • v. To gladden

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. Well-pleased; glad; apt; wont; fond; inclined.
  • adj. Satisfied; contented; also, constrained.
  • adv. With joy; gladly; -- with wold.
  • v. To be glad ; to wish or desire.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • Glad; pleased; rejoiced: used absolutely or followed by an infinitive: as, I am fain to see you.
  • Glad, in a relative sense; content or willing to accept an alternative to something better but unattainable: followed by an infinitive: as, he was fain to run away.
  • Gladly; with pleasure or content: with would.
  • To be fain; be glad; rejoice.
  • To fawn. See fawn, verb
  • To fill with gladness; cause to rejoice.
  • To wish; desire; long.
  • To acquiesce in; accept with reluctance, as an alternative.
  • An obsolete spelling of feign (retained in the derivative faint).

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

  • adv. in a willing manner
  • adj. having made preparations


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

Middle English, from Old English fægen, joyful, glad.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Old English fægen, akin to Old Norse feginn ("glad, joyful"), Gothic 𐍆𐌰𐌲𐌹𐌽𐍉𐌽 (faginon, "to rejoice"), Old Norse fagna ("to rejoice"). Compare Gothic 𐍆𐌰𐌷𐍃 (*fahs, "glad").


  • [56] Morris became so intolerant of French vocables that he detested and would "fain" have eschewed the very word literature.

    A History of English Romanticism in the Nineteenth Century

  • No, I could not "fain," as she did; but I glanced at my watch as I rose from the table, and found that it wanted a quarter of eight.

    Sea-Gift. A Novel.

  • He, too, had fain been the father of her children, and many skins has he cured thereto.

    The Sun of the Wolf

  • I wish it had been vouchsafed me to be by when your spirit of a sudden grew willing to bestow itself without question or let or hope of return, when the self broke up and grew fain to beat out your strength in praise and service for the woman who was soaring high in the blue wastes.

    From Dane Kempton to Herbert Wace - Letter I

  • "Why do you not draw back your garment's hem?" she was fain to cry out, all in that flashing, dazzling second.


  • I would have fain rubbed my eyes and looked again, for, as far as I could see, the rocks bordering upon the ocean were covered with seals.

    Chapter 19

  • I am fain to leave a walled house, and, better still, to get outside of the walls within and join the city in friendship and let the city join me.

    The Kempton-Wace Letters

  • Martin listened and fain would have rubbed his eyes.

    Chapter 36

  • When he reached London Bridge, the only available crossing, Pepys found the wooden barriers on either side had been torn away in the storm, "so that we were fain to stoop very low for fear of blowing off of the bridge."

    Weatherwatch: Samuel Pepys recounts a London storm

  • They loved him so well that they were fain to keep him always, warm and athrill in their hearts.



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  • file under 'words I had completely the wrong idea about for years upon years' (along with prodigal, etc)

    November 29, 2009

  • "What differs scraping misery from a false cheater? the director of both is covetousness and the end game. Lastly, courting of a mistress and buying of a whore are somewhat like—the end is luxury. Perhaps the one speaks more finely but they both mean plainly. I have been thus seeking differences, and to distinguish of places I am fain to fly to the sign of an alehouse and to the stately coming in of greater houses. For men, titles and clothes, not their lives and actions, help me. So were they all naked and banished from the Heralds’ books. They are without any evidence of pre-eminence, and their souls cannot defend them from community."

    - William Cornwallis, 'Of alehouses', 1600.

    November 28, 2008

  • See mouth-honour.

    December 16, 2007