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See more synonyms for gain on Thesaurus.com
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.
  3. to obtain as a profit: He gained ten dollars by this deal.
  4. to win; get in competition: to gain the prize.
  5. to win (someone) to one's own side or point of view; persuade (sometimes followed by over): to gain supporters.
  6. (of a watch or clock) to run fast by (a specified amount): My watch gains six minutes a day.
  7. to reach, especially by effort; get to; arrive at: to gain one's destination.
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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.
  3. to draw away from or farther ahead of the other contestants in a race, one's pursuers, etc. (usually followed by on or upon).
  4. (of a watch or clock) to run fast.
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  1. profit or advantage.
  2. an increase or advance.
  3. gains, profits or winnings.
  4. the act of gaining; acquisition.
  5. Electronics.
    1. a measure of the increase in signal amplitude produced by an amplifier, expressed as the ratio of output to input.
    2. the effectiveness of a directional antenna as compared with a standard, nondirectional one.
  6. the volume control of a radio, phonograph, amplifier, etc.
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  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.
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Origin of gain1

1425–75; late Middle English (noun) < Middle French, contraction of Old French gaaing, noun derivative of gaaignier to till, earn, win < Germanic; compare Old High German weidanōn to hunt, forage for food
Related formsgain·a·ble, adjectiveun·gain·a·ble, adjective


See more synonyms for on Thesaurus.com
1. procure. Gain, attain, earn, win imply obtaining a reward or something advantageous. Gain carries the least suggestion of method or of effort expended. Attain emphasizes the reaching of a goal. Earn emphasizes the exertions and labor expended that deserve reward. Win emphasizes attainment in spite of competition or opposition. 7. attain. 13. addition, increment, acquisition.


1. lose.


  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.
  2. tusk(def 4).
  3. a short rabbet, for receiving a flap of a butt hinge.
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verb (used with object)
  1. to make a gain or gains in.
  2. to fasten or support by means of a gain.
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Origin of gain2

1670–80; perhaps akin to obsolete gane, Old English (north) ganian to yawn, open
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words


Examples from the Web for gains

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • Once he gains it, he can do with it what he will, because he has given up all love.

  • One gains nothing by attempting to shut out the sprites of the weather.

    Yankee Gypsies

    John Greenleaf Whittier

  • While Calderon gains ground with the prince, Uzeda advances with the king.

    Calderon The Courtier

    Edward Bulwer-Lytton

  • Why should you leave all the gains that are to be got to my proprietor and the like of him?

    Little Dorrit

    Charles Dickens

  • Why should you leave all the gains to the gluttons, knaves, and impostors?

    Little Dorrit

    Charles Dickens

British Dictionary definitions for gains


pl n
  1. profits or winningsill-gotten gains
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n acronym for (in Canada)
  1. Guaranteed Annual Income
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  1. (tr) to acquire (something desirable); obtain
  2. (tr) to win in competitionto gain the victory
  3. to increase, improve, or advancethe car gained speed; the shares gained in value
  4. (tr) to earn (a wage, living, etc)
  5. (intr; usually foll by on or upon)
    1. to get nearer (to) or catch up (on)
    2. to get farther away (from)
  6. (tr) (esp of ships) to get to; reachthe steamer gained port
  7. (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 amountthis watch gains; it gains ten minutes a day
  8. gain ground to make progress or obtain an advantage
  9. gain time
    1. to obtain extra time by a delay or postponement
    2. (of a timepiece) to operate too fast
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  1. something won, acquired, earned, etc; profit; advantage
  2. an increase in size, amount, etc
  3. the act of gaining; attainment; acquisition
  4. Also called: amplification electronics the ratio of the output signal of an amplifier to the input signal, usually measured in decibels
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See also gains
Derived Formsgainable, adjective

Word Origin

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


  1. a notch, mortise, or groove, esp one cut to take the flap of a butt hinge
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  1. (tr) to cut a gain or gains in
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Word Origin

C17: of obscure origin
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 gains



late 15c., from Middle French gain, from Old French gaaigne "gain, profit, advantage; booty; arable land" (12c.), from gaaignier "to gain" (see gain (v.)). The original French sense enfolded the notions of "profit from agriculture" and "booty, prey." Implied earlier in Middle English gaignage (late 14c.) "profit from agriculture."

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1520s, from Middle French gagner, from Old French gaaignier "to earn, gain; trade; capture, win," also "work in the fields, cultivate land," from Frankish *waidanjan "hunt, forage," also "graze, pasture," from Proto-Germanic *wartho "hunting ground" (cf. Old English waþ "hunting," German Weide "pasture, pasturage," Old Norse veiðr "hunting, catch of fish"), from PIE *weie- "to strive after, pursue with vigor, desire" (see venison). Related: Gained; gaining. To gain on "advance nearer" is from 1719. To gain ground (1620s) was originally military.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

gains in Medicine


  1. An increase in amount or degree.
  2. Progress; advancement.
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The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.

Idioms and Phrases with gains


In addition to the idiom beginning with gain

  • gain ground

also see:

  • ill-gotten gains
  • no pain, no gain
  • nothing ventured, nothing gained
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The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.