Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • adverb Happily; gladly.
  • adjective Ready; willing.
  • adjective Pleased; happy.
  • adjective Obliged or required.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Gladly; with pleasure or content: with would.
  • An obsolete spelling of feign (retained in the derivative faint).

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • adverb With joy; gladly; -- with wold.
  • verb obsolete To be glad ; to wish or desire.
  • adjective Well-pleased; glad; apt; wont; fond; inclined.
  • adjective Satisfied; contented; also, constrained.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • adjective archaic Well-pleased; glad; apt; wont; fond; inclined.
  • adjective archaic Satisfied; contented.
  • adverb archaic With joy; gladly.
  • verb archaic To be delighted or glad; to rejoice
  • verb archaic To gladden

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

  • adverb in a willing manner
  • adjective having made preparations

Etymologies

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").

Examples

  • [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 Son of the Wolf

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

    THE SCORN OF WOMEN

  • Martin listened and fain would have rubbed his eyes.

    Chapter 36

  • 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

  • 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

  • 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

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

    The Sun of the Wolf

  • 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

Comments

New comments are temporarily disabled while we update our database.

  • See mouth-honour.

    December 16, 2007

  • "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

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

    November 29, 2009