A Dictionary of the English Language
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Gain (verb active)

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View Scan · View Transcription · from page 878

To Gain. v.a. [gagner, French.]

  1. To obtain as profit or advantage.

    Thou hast taken usury and increase, and thou hast greedily gained of thy neighbours by extortions. Ezek. xxii. 12.

  2. To have the overplus in comparative computation.

    If you have two vessels to fill, and you empty one to fill the other, you gain nothing by that. Burnet's Theory of the Earth.

  3. To obtain; to procure.

    If such a tradition were endeavoured to be set on foot, it is not easy to imagine how it should at first gain entertainment; but much more difficult to conceive how ever it should come to be universally propagated. Tillotson's Sermons.

  4. To obtain increase of any thing allotted.

    I know that ye would gain the time, because ye see the king is gone from me. Dan. ii. 8.

  5. To obtain whatever good or bad.

    Ye should not have loosed from Crete, and have gained this harm and loss. Acts xxvii. 21.

    They who were sent to the other pass, after a short resistance, gained it. Clarendon, b. viii.

    Fat fees from the defended Umbrian draws,
    And only gains the wealthy client's cause.
    Dryd. Pers. Sat.

    O love! for Sylvia let me gain the prize,
    And make my tongue victorious as her eyes.
    Pope's Spring.

  6. To win.

    They who were sent to the other pass, after a short resistance, gained it. Clarendon, b. viii.

    Fat fees from the defended Umbrian draws,
    And only gains the wealthy client's cause.
    Dryd. Pers. Sat.

    O love! for Sylvia let me gain the prize,
    And make my tongue victorious as her eyes.
    Pope's Spring.

  7. To draw into any interest or party.

    Come, with presents, laden from the port,
    To gratify the queen and gain the court.
    Dryd. Virg. Æ.n.

        If Pyrrhus must be wrought to pity,
    No woman does it better than yourself:
    If you gain him, I shall comply of course.
    A. Phillips.

  8. To reach; to attain.

    The West glimmers with some streaks of day:
    Now spurs the lated traveller apace,
    To gain the timely inn.
    Shakespeare's Macbeth.

    Death was the post, which I almost did gain:
    Shall I once more be tost into the main?
    Waller.

    We came to the roots of the mountain, and had a very troublesome march to gain the top of it. Addison on Italy.

    Thus sav'd from death, they gain the Phestan shores,
    With shatter'd vessels and disabled oars.
    Pope's Odyssey, b. iii.

  9. To Gain over. To draw to another party or interest.

    The court of Hanover should have endeavoured to gain over those who were represented as their enemies. Swift.

Sources: The Bible - Acts (20) · Addison, Joseph (408) · Burnet, Thomas (45) · Clarendon, Edward (73) · The Bible - Daniel (6) · Dryden, John (788) · The Bible - Ezekiel (12) · Shakespeare's Macbeth (136) · Philips, Ambrose (8) · Pope, Alexander (393) · Swift, Jonathan (306) · Tillotson, John (68) · Waller, Edmund (63)

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Cite this page: Johnson, Samuel. "Gain (verb active)." A Dictionary of the English Language: A Digital Edition of the 1755 Classic by Samuel Johnson. Edited by Brandi Besalke. Last modified: June 3, 2013. http://johnsonsdictionaryonline.com/?p=5220.


  1. The Waller poem (from “The Maid’s Tragedy Alter’d”) seems to have a misprint:

    I could have dy’d but once; but, this believe’d,
    I may, alas! be mor ethan once deceiv’d.
    Death was the port, which I almost did gain,
    Shall I once more be tost into the Main?

    Like many dictionary misprints, this error was copied verbatim in a variety of reference works up through the middle of the 19th century (see, for example, the 1816 Encyclopædia Perthensis or the 1826 London Encyclopædia).

  2. Brandi on June 3rd, 2013 at 8:26 am

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