1 [urn]
verb (used with object)
to gain or get in return for one's labor or service: to earn one's living.
to merit as compensation, as for service; deserve: to receive more than one has earned.
to acquire through merit: to earn a reputation for honesty.
to gain as due return or profit: Savings accounts earn interest.
to bring about or cause deservedly: His fair dealing earned our confidence.
verb (used without object)
to gain income: securities that earn on a quarterly basis.

before 900; Middle English ern(i)en, Old English earnian; akin to Old High German arnēn to earn, harvest

earner, noun

1. procure, make, receive, obtain. See gain1.
Dictionary.com Unabridged


2 [urn]
verb (used without object) Obsolete.
to grieve.

1570–80; perhaps variant of yearn

Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
Cite This Source Link To earn
World English Dictionary
earn (ɜːn)
1.  to gain or be paid (money or other payment) in return for work or service
2.  (tr) to acquire, merit, or deserve through behaviour or action: he has earned a name for duplicity
3.  (tr) (of securities, investments, etc) to gain (interest, return, profit, etc)
[Old English earnian; related to Old High German arnēn to reap, Old Saxon asna salary, tithe]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
Cite This Source
Word Origin & History

O.E. earnian "get a reward for labor," from W.Gmc. *aznojanan, from *aznu "work, labor" (cf. O.H.G. aran, Ger. Ernte "harvest," Goth. asans "harvest, summer," O.N. önn "work in the field"). Related to O.E. esne "serf." Related: Earned; earning.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
Cite This Source
Computing Dictionary

EARN definition

European Academic and Research Network.

The Free On-line Dictionary of Computing, © Denis Howe 2010 http://foldoc.org
Cite This Source
American Heritage
Idioms & Phrases


In addition to the idioms beginning with earn, also see penny saved is a penny earned.

The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer.
Copyright © 1997. Published by Houghton Mifflin.
Cite This Source
Example sentences
How much money people make has a lot to do with how educated they are, but
  sometimes less-educated people earn more.
We talked about bringing in part of our allowance and doing extra chores to
  earn money.
Thinking the money you earn is due to your efforts and your efforts alone
  verges on delusions-of-grandeur.
It has encouraged schemes for single mothers to earn money.
Copyright © 2014 Dictionary.com, LLC. All rights reserved.
  • Please Login or Sign Up to use the Recent Searches feature