synonyms, antonyms, definitions, examples & translations of earn in English

English Online Dictionary. What means earn‎? What does earn mean?


Etymology 1

From Middle English ernen, from Old English earnian, from Proto-West Germanic *aʀanōn, from Proto-Germanic *azanōną. This verb is denominal from the noun *azaniz (harvest).


  • (Received Pronunciation) enPR: ûrn, IPA(key): /ɜːn/
  • (US) enPR: ûrn, IPA(key): /ɝn/
  • Rhymes: -ɜː(ɹ)n
  • Homophones: ern, erne, urn


earn (third-person singular simple present earns, present participle earning, simple past and past participle earned or (chiefly UK) earnt)

  1. (transitive) To gain (success, reward, recognition) through applied effort or work.
  2. (transitive) To receive payment for work.
    (Can we add an example for this sense?)
  3. (intransitive) To receive payment for work.
  4. (transitive) To cause (someone) to receive payment or reward.
  5. (transitive) To achieve by being worthy of.
  • (gain through applied effort or work): deserve, merit, garner, win
  • ((transitive) receive payment for work):
  • ((intransitive) receive payment for work):
  • (cause someone to receive payment or reward): yield, make, generate, render
Derived terms

Etymology 2

Probably either:

  • from Middle English erne, ernen (to coagulate, congeal) (chiefly South Midlands)  [and other forms], a metathetic variant of rennen (to run; to coagulate, congeal), from Old English rinnen (to run) (with the variants iernan, irnan) and Old Norse rinna (to move quickly, run; of liquid: to flow, run; to melt), both from Proto-Germanic *rinnaną, ultimately from Proto-Indo-European *h₃er- (to move, stir; to rise, spring); or
  • a back-formation from earning ((Britain regional, archaic) rennet).


earn (third-person singular simple present earns, present participle earning, simple past and past participle earned) (Britain, dialectal)

  1. (transitive, archaic) To curdle (milk), especially in the cheesemaking process.
    Synonyms: run, (Northern England, Scotland) yearn
  2. (intransitive, obsolete) Of milk: to curdle, espcially in the cheesemaking process.

Etymology 3

A variant of yearn.


earn (third-person singular simple present earns, present participle earning, simple past and past participle earned)

  1. (transitive, obsolete) To strongly long or yearn (for something or to do something).
  2. (intransitive, obsolete) To grieve.

Etymology 4


earn (plural earns)

  1. Alternative form of erne



  • Arne, Near, Nera, eRNA, erna, nare, near, rean

Middle English



  1. (Early Middle English) Alternative form of ern (eagle)

Old English


From Proto-Germanic *arô, from Proto-Indo-European *h₃érō (eagle, large bird).

Cognate with Old Frisian *ern, Old Saxon *arn, Old Dutch *arn, Old High German arn, Old Norse ǫrn, Gothic 𐌰𐍂𐌰 (ara); and, outside the Germanic languages, with Ancient Greek ὄρνις (órnis, bird), Old Armenian որոր (oror, gull), Old Irish irar, Lithuanian erẽlis, Old Church Slavonic орьлъ (orĭlŭ).


  • IPA(key): /æ͜ɑrn/, [æ͜ɑrˠn]


earn m

  1. eagle



  • Middle English: ern
    • English: erne
    • Scots: earn, ern, erne

West Frisian


From Old Frisian *ern, from Proto-Germanic *arô, from Proto-Indo-European *h₃érō.


earn c (plural earnen, diminutive earntsje)

  1. eagle
  2. (figurative) miser

Further reading

  • “earn”, in Wurdboek fan de Fryske taal (in Dutch), 2011

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