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.

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.


  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.

  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.


  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.

verb (used with object)

  1. to make a gain or gains in.
  2. to fasten or support by means of a gain.


  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


  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


  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

n acronym for (in Canada)

  1. Guaranteed Annual Income

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.”


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.


  1. An increase in amount or degree.
  2. Progress; advancement.

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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