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From: Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary (1913)

 At·tain v. t. [imp. & p. p. Attained p. pr. & vb. n. Attaining.]
 1. To achieve or accomplish, that is, to reach by efforts; to gain; to compass; as, to attain rest.
    Is he wise who hopes to attain the end without the means?   --Abp. Tillotson.
 2. To gain or obtain possession of; to acquire. [Obs. with a material object.]
 3. To get at the knowledge of; to ascertain. [Obs.]
    Not well attaining his meaning.   --Fuller.
 4. To reach or come to, by progression or motion; to arrive at. “Canaan he now attains.”
 5. To overtake. [Obs.]
 6. To reach in excellence or degree; to equal.
 Syn: -- To Attain, Obtain, Procure.
 Usage: Attain always implies an effort toward an object. Hence it is not synonymous with obtain and procure, which do not necessarily imply such effort or motion. We procure or obtain a thing by purchase or loan, and we obtain by inheritance, but we do not attain it by such means.