[ feyn ]
See synonyms for fain on Thesaurus.com
  1. gladly; willingly: He fain would accept.

  1. willing: They were fain to go.

  2. Archaic. constrained; obliged: He was fain to obey his Lord.

  1. Archaic. glad; pleased.

  2. Archaic. desirous; eager.

Origin of fain

First recorded before 900; Middle English; Old English fæg(e)n; cognate with Old Norse feginn “happy”; akin to fair1

Words that may be confused with fain

Words Nearby fain

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use fain in a sentence

  • Video cameraman Scott fain, 54, likes what he hears at the event.

  • Richard would fain have moralised and comforted, but she felt as if she knew it all before, and heard with languid attention.

    The Daisy Chain | Charlotte Yonge
  • I am a poor fellow, sir; that shall be a longtime getting rich, and would fain not die till I am so.

    The Battle of Hexham; | George Colman
  • I longed to hear her and to see her always; I would have died in rapture at her side, but I was never fain to wed her.

    Marguerite | Anatole France
  • The incident recalled was one that he would fain have forgotten, one the truth of which he intended at all hazards to conceal.

    The Doctor of Pimlico | William Le Queux

British Dictionary definitions for fain


/ (feɪn) /

  1. (usually with would) archaic willingly; gladly: she would fain be dead

  1. obsolete

    • willing or eager

    • compelled

Origin of fain

Old English fægen; related to Old Norse fegiun happy, Old High German gifehan to be glad, Gothic fahehs joy; see fawn ²

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