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[feyn] /feɪn/
gladly; willingly:
He fain would accept.
content; willing:
They were fain to go.
Archaic. constrained; obliged:
He was fain to obey his Lord.
Archaic. glad; pleased.
Archaic. desirous; eager.
Origin of fain
before 900; Middle English; Old English fæg(e)n; cognate with Old Norse feginn happy; akin to fair1
Can be confused
fain, faint, feign, feint. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for fain
Historical Examples
  • You will find that your trust was not given in vain, for no one loves you as well as I, and no one is so fain to help you.

    The Memoires of Casanova, Complete Jacques Casanova de Seingalt
  • It was only as he exclaimed, “Good aunt, I am fain to see thee here!”

    The Armourer's Prentices Charlotte M. Yonge
  • I felt the mangling of the appetites Of the black panthers, of the savage kites, That were so fain to rend and pick my flesh.

    Silverpoints John Gray
  • A burst of Homeric laughter was Sir William's reply--laughter in which all were fain to join.

    In the Valley Harold Frederic
  • But when we drew near I was fain to look on one of the two ladies who still sat on their horses waiting for the earl's pleasure.

    King Olaf's Kinsman Charles Whistler
  • Bowed then to bench those bearers-of-glory, fain of the feasting.

    Beowulf Anonymous
  • And thus he went on, sputtering out such a parcel of big words, that I was fain to ask him what his profession was?

  • Me therein, an innocent man, the fiendish foe was fain to thrust with many another.

    Beowulf Anonymous
  • fain would we ask you longer to tarry—but it is otherwise determined, and we must comply.

    Nathan Hale Jean Christie Root
  • He said I must sing—it was part of my studies, and I was fain to bend to his will.

    The First Violin Jessie Fothergill
British Dictionary definitions for fain


(usually with would) (archaic) willingly; gladly: she would fain be dead
  1. willing or eager
  2. compelled
Word Origin
Old English fægen; related to Old Norse fegiun happy, Old High German gifehan to be glad, Gothic fahehs joy; see fawn²
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
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Word Origin and History for fain

Old English fægen, fagen "glad, cheerful, happy, joyful, rejoicing," from a common Germanic root (cf. Old Saxon fagan, Old Norse feginn "glad," Old High German faginon, Gothic faginon "to rejoice"), perhaps from PIE *pek- "to make pretty." As an adverb, from c.1200.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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