tr.v. earned, earn·ing, earnsIdiom:
1. To gain especially for the performance of service, labor, or work: earned money by mowing lawns.
2. To acquire or deserve as a result of effort or action: She earned a reputation as a hard worker.
3. To yield as return or profit: a savings account that earns interest on deposited funds.
earn (one's) spurs/stripes
To gain a position through hard work and the accumulation of experience, often in the face of difficulties.
[Middle English ernen, from Old English earnian.]
Synonyms: earn, deserve, merit, rate1, win
These verbs mean to gain as a result of one's behavior or effort: earns a large salary; deserves our thanks; a suggestion that merits consideration; an event that rates a mention in the news; a candidate who won wide support.
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2018 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.