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[geyn-fuh l] /ˈgeɪn fəl/
profitable; lucrative:
gainful employment.
Origin of gainful
1545-55; gain1 + -ful
Related forms
gainfully, adverb
gainfulness, noun
ungainful, adjective
ungainfully, adverb Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for gainful
  • Unemployment is crushing for previously employed people in places where gainful employment is the norm.
  • The possibility of gainful employment also increases interest in education.
  • He has also given gainful employment to many other writers.
  • It was filled with all these crazy creative types who probably couldn't find gainful employment anywhere else.
  • Their job there was to drum up donations and deliver them to the needy, making themselves gainful employers there.
  • In rich countries, workfare is meant to stop people living off the state rather than finding gainful employment.
  • Growing companies and economies rapidly absorb the poor into gainful employment and out of marginal jobs.
  • Political office-holding has become nothing more than a way to enrich oneself without ever having to perform gainful employment.
  • When further illness prevented my continued gainful employment, social services kept me living independently.
  • Southern students were more likely to be looking for gainful employment.
British Dictionary definitions for gainful


profitable; lucrative: gainful employment
Derived Forms
gainfully, adverb
gainfulness, noun
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 gainful

1540s (implied in gainfully), from gain + -ful. Phrase gainfully employed attested from 1796.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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