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Webster's Dictionary 1828 - Online Edition

Webster's Dictionary 1828

Americal Dictionary of the English Language

American Dictionary
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Attain

ATTA'IN, verb intransitive [Latin attingo, to reach, come to or overtake; ad and tango, to touch, reach or strike; that is, to thrust, urge or push to. it has no connection with Latin attineo. See Class.]

1. To reach; to come to or arrive at, by motion, bodily exertion, or efforts towards a place or object.

If by any means they might attain to Phenice. Acts 28:1.

2. To reach; to come to or arrive at, by an effort of mind.

Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high; I cannot attain to it. Psalms 139:6.

Regularly this verb should be always followed by to; the omission of to, and the use of the verb, in a transitive sense, may have originated in mistake, from the opinion that the verb is from the Latin attineo, and equivalent to obtain.

ATTA'IN, verb transitive

1. To gain; to compass; to achieve or accomplish, that is, to reach by efforts; without to following.

Is he wise who hopes to attain the end without the means?

This use of the verb is now established; but in strictness to is here implied; attain to the end. The real sense, as in the intransitive use of the verb is, to reach or come to the end or purpose in view. This word always implies an effort towards an object. Hence it is not synonymous with obtain and procure, which do not necessarily imply such effort. We procure or obtain a thing by purchase or loan, and we obtain by inheritance, but we do not attain it by such means. An inattention to this distinction has led good authors into great mistakes in the use of this word.

2. To reach or come to a place or object by progression or motion.

But ere such tidings shall his ears attain

Canaan he now attains.

3. To reach in excellence or degree; to equal.