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[feyn] /feɪn/
gladly; willingly:
He fain would accept.
content; willing:
They were fain to go.
Archaic. constrained; obliged:
He was fain to obey his Lord.
Archaic. glad; pleased.
Archaic. desirous; eager.
Origin of fain
before 900; Middle English; Old English fæg(e)n; cognate with Old Norse feginn happy; akin to fair1
Can be confused
fain, faint, feign, feint. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for fain
Historical Examples
  • It was only as he exclaimed, “Good aunt, I am fain to see thee here!”

    The Armourer's Prentices Charlotte M. Yonge
  • A burst of Homeric laughter was Sir William's reply--laughter in which all were fain to join.

    In the Valley Harold Frederic
  • The mate admired at a mood so novel for his commander, but he was fain to submit.

    Homeward Bound James Fenimore Cooper
  • Bowed then to bench those bearers-of-glory, fain of the feasting.

    Beowulf Anonymous
  • But, no thanks unto him, the Bible he was fain to leave unmeddled with.

  • Me therein, an innocent man, the fiendish foe was fain to thrust with many another.

    Beowulf Anonymous
  • He said I must sing—it was part of my studies, and I was fain to bend to his will.

    The First Violin Jessie Fothergill
  • One thing we fain would emphasise, before we conclude our account.

    The Book of Khalid Ameen Rihani
  • She kissed him again, fain to dispel the shadow that darkened his face.

    Sir Henry Morgan, Buccaneer Cyrus Townsend Brady
  • Neither were to be had, and he was fain to put up with a wafer.

    One Of Them Charles James Lever
British Dictionary definitions for fain


(usually with would) (archaic) willingly; gladly: she would fain be dead
  1. willing or eager
  2. compelled
Word Origin
Old English fægen; related to Old Norse fegiun happy, Old High German gifehan to be glad, Gothic fahehs joy; see fawn²
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for fain

Old English fægen, fagen "glad, cheerful, happy, joyful, rejoicing," from a common Germanic root (cf. Old Saxon fagan, Old Norse feginn "glad," Old High German faginon, Gothic faginon "to rejoice"), perhaps from PIE *pek- "to make pretty." As an adverb, from c.1200.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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