v. at·tained, at·tain·ing, at·tains
1. To gain as an objective; achieve: attain a diploma by hard work.
2. To come to or arrive at, as through movement, growth, or the passage of time: Redwoods can attain a height of 300 feet.
To succeed in a directed effort, process, or progression: attained to high office; eventually attained to wisdom.
[Middle English atteinen, from Old French ataindre, ataign-, to reach to, from Vulgar Latin *attangere, from Latin attingere : ad-, ad- + tangere, to touch; see tag- in the Appendix of Indo-European roots.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2019 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.