Try Our Apps


Where does "December" come from? Read More.


[urn] /ɜrn/
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.
Origin of earn1
before 900; Middle English ern(i)en, Old English earnian; akin to Old High German arnēn to earn, harvest
Related forms
earner, noun
Can be confused
earn, urn.
1. procure, make, receive, obtain. See gain1 .


[urn] /ɜrn/
verb (used without object), Obsolete.
to grieve.
1570-80; perhaps variant of yearn Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
Cite This Source
Examples from the Web for earn
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • May be it is; but how can you earn a thousand dollars a piece so easily?

  • He was very glad to earn money in this way, since it seemed he was to have no fish to dispose of.

    Brave and Bold Horatio Alger
  • Certainly the commission did what it could to earn the thanks given.

    Religion & Sex Chapman Cohen
  • But you know it is time I was doing something to earn my own livelihood now.

    The Slave Of The Lamp Henry Seton Merriman
  • Of course, if I had my bread and butter and cigars to earn, 'twould be different.

    Miss Billy Married Eleanor H. Porter
British Dictionary definitions for earn


to gain or be paid (money or other payment) in return for work or service
(transitive) to acquire, merit, or deserve through behaviour or action: he has earned a name for duplicity
(transitive) (of securities, investments, etc) to gain (interest, return, profit, etc)
Word Origin
Old English earnian; related to Old High German arnēn to reap, Old Saxon asna salary, tithe
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
Cite This Source
Word Origin and History for earn

Old English earnian "deserve, earn, merit, win, get a reward for labor," from Proto-Germanic *aznojan (cf. Old Frisian esna "reward, pay"), from *azna "labor" especially "field labor" (cf. Old Norse önn "work in the field"), from PIE *aznon "to do harvest work, serve" (cf. Old High German arnon "to reap"), denominative verb from *es-en- "harvest, fall" (cf. Old High German aren "harvest, crop," German Ernte "harvest," Old English ern "harvest," Gothic asans "harvest, summer," Old Church Slavonic jeseni, Russian osen, Old Prussian assanis "autumn").

Also from the same root are Gothic asneis, Old High German esni "hired laborer, day laborer," Old English esne "serf, laborer, man." Related: Earned; earning.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
Cite This Source
earn in Technology

European Academic and Research Network.

The Free On-line Dictionary of Computing, © Denis Howe 2010
Cite This Source
Idioms and Phrases with earn
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Cite This Source

Word of the Day

Word Value for earn

Scrabble Words With Friends

Nearby words for earn