[ geyn ]
See synonyms for: gaingainedgaininggains on

verb (used with object)
  1. to get (something desired), especially as a result of one's efforts: to gain possession of an object;to gain permission to enter a country.

  2. to acquire as an increase or addition: to gain weight;to gain speed.

  1. to obtain as a profit: He gained ten dollars by this deal.

  2. to win; get in competition: to gain the prize.

  3. to win (someone) to one's own side or point of view; persuade (sometimes followed by over): to gain supporters.

  4. (of a watch or clock) to run fast by (a specified amount): My watch gains six minutes a day.

  5. to reach, especially by effort; get to; arrive at: to gain one's destination.

verb (used without object)
  1. to improve; make progress; advance: to gain in health after an illness.

  2. to get nearer, as in pursuit (usually followed by on or upon): Our horse was gaining on the favorite at the far turn.

  1. to draw away from or farther ahead of the other contestants in a race, one's pursuers, etc. (usually followed by on or upon).

  2. (of a watch or clock) to run fast.

  1. profit or advantage.

  2. an increase or advance.

  1. gains, profits or winnings.

  2. the act of gaining; acquisition.

  3. Electronics.

    • a measure of the increase in signal amplitude produced by an amplifier, expressed as the ratio of output to input.

    • the effectiveness of a directional antenna as compared with a standard, nondirectional one.

  4. the volume control of a radio, phonograph, amplifier, etc.

Idioms about gain

  1. gain ground, to progress or advance, as in value, strength, or achievement: The company's new products are gaining ground in suburban areas.

  2. gain time, to arrange a postponement or delay for a particular purpose, especially by roundabout means.

Origin of gain

First recorded in 1200–50; Middle English noun, from Middle French gain, contraction of Old French gaaing, noun derivative of ga(a)ignier “to till, earn, win,” from Germanic

synonym study For gain

1. Gain, attain, earn, win imply obtaining a reward or something advantageous. Gain carries the least suggestion of method or of effort expended: After battling the blizzard, we finally gained our destination. Attain emphasizes the reaching of a goal: to attain stardom. Earn emphasizes the exertions and labor expended that deserve reward: to earn a promotion. Win emphasizes attainment in spite of competition or opposition: to win support in a campaign.

Other words for gain

Opposites for gain

Other words from gain

  • gain·a·ble, adjective
  • un·gain·a·ble, adjective

Other definitions for gain (2 of 2)

[ geyn ]

  1. a notch, dado, or mortise cut into a piece of wood, as to receive another piece or to house a flap of a hinge.

  1. a short rabbet, for receiving a flap of a butt hinge.

verb (used with object)
  1. to make a gain or gains in.

  2. to fasten or support by means of a gain.

Origin of gain

First recorded in 1670–80; of unknown origin Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use gain in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for gain (1 of 3)


/ (ɡeɪn) /

  1. (tr) to acquire (something desirable); obtain

  2. (tr) to win in competition: to gain the victory

  1. to increase, improve, or advance: the car gained speed; the shares gained in value

  2. (tr) to earn (a wage, living, etc)

  3. (intr; usually foll by on or upon)

    • to get nearer (to) or catch up (on)

    • to get farther away (from)

  4. (tr) (esp of ships) to get to; reach: the steamer gained port

  5. (of a timepiece) to operate too fast, so as to indicate a time ahead of the true time or to run fast by a specified amount: this watch gains; it gains ten minutes a day

  6. gain ground to make progress or obtain an advantage

  7. gain time

    • to obtain extra time by a delay or postponement

    • (of a timepiece) to operate too fast

  1. something won, acquired, earned, etc; profit; advantage

  2. an increase in size, amount, etc

  1. the act of gaining; attainment; acquisition

  2. Also called: amplification electronics the ratio of the output signal of an amplifier to the input signal, usually measured in decibels

Origin of gain

C15: from Old French gaaignier, of Germanic origin; related to Old High German weidenen to forage, hunt

Derived forms of gain

  • gainable, adjective

British Dictionary definitions for gain (2 of 3)


/ (ɡeɪn) /

  1. a notch, mortise, or groove, esp one cut to take the flap of a butt hinge

  1. (tr) to cut a gain or gains in

Origin of gain

C17: of obscure origin

British Dictionary definitions for GAIN (3 of 3)


/ (ɡeɪn) /

n acronym for(in Canada)
  1. Guaranteed Annual Income

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

Other Idioms and Phrases with gain


In addition to the idiom beginning with gain

  • gain ground

also see:

  • ill-gotten gains
  • no pain, no gain
  • nothing ventured, nothing gained

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.