[geyn-fuh l]


profitable; lucrative: gainful employment.

Origin of gainful

First recorded in 1545–55; gain1 + -ful
Related formsgain·ful·ly, adverbgain·ful·ness, nounun·gain·ful, adjectiveun·gain·ful·ly, adverb Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for gainful

Contemporary Examples of gainful

Historical Examples of gainful

  • One needs only to point out to them that the pursuit is gainful, and their interest is aroused.

  • What was our status in the business pursuits and gainful occupations at that time?

  • The pursuit of gainful effort is as old as the existence of man on earth.


    William Graham Sumner

  • His gainful pursuit was that of being a commercial traveller.

    Local Color

    Irvin S. Cobb

  • Now Harald has got him east away, And each morrow of fight was a gainful day.

    Poems by the Way

    William Morris

British Dictionary definitions for gainful



profitable; lucrativegainful employment
Derived Formsgainfully, adverbgainfulness, noun
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

Word Origin and History for gainful

1540s (implied in gainfully), from gain + -ful. Phrase gainfully employed attested from 1796.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper