[ urn ]
/ ɜrn /

verb (used with object)

to gain or get in return for one's labor or service: to earn one's living.
to merit as compensation, as for service; deserve: to receive more than one has earned.
to acquire through merit: to earn a reputation for honesty.
to gain as due return or profit: Savings accounts earn interest.
to bring about or cause deservedly: His fair dealing earned our confidence.

verb (used without object)

to gain income: securities that earn on a quarterly basis.

Origin of earn

before 900; Middle English ern(i)en, Old English earnian; akin to Old High German arnēn to earn, harvest

Related forms

earn·er, noun

Can be confused

earn urn

Definition for earn (2 of 2)


[ urn ]
/ ɜrn /

verb (used without object) Obsolete.

to grieve.

Origin of earn

First recorded in 1570–80; perhaps variant of yearn
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for earn

British Dictionary definitions for earn


/ (ɜːn) /


to gain or be paid (money or other payment) in return for work or service
(tr) to acquire, merit, or deserve through behaviour or actionhe has earned a name for duplicity
(tr) (of securities, investments, etc) to gain (interest, return, profit, etc)

Word Origin for earn

Old English earnian; related to Old High German arnēn to reap, Old Saxon asna salary, tithe
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

Idioms and Phrases with earn


In addition to the idioms beginning with earn

  • earn one's keep
  • earn one's stripes

also see:

  • penny saved is a penny earned
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.