Definition of fain in US English:



  • 1Pleased or willing under the circumstances.

    ‘the traveler was fain to proceed’
    • ‘He held out his hand watching me, but I fain to think that I would still question myself, pulled away.’’
    1. 1.1 Compelled by the circumstances; obliged.
      ‘he was fain to acknowledge that the agreement was sacrosanct’
      • ‘In Smith's Discourse of the Commonweal, a maker of caps is made to say: ‘I am fain to give my journeymen twopence in a day more than I was wont to do, and yet they say they cannot sufficiently live thereon.’
      • ‘This functionary, however well disposed to my friend, could not altogether conceal his chagrin at the turn which affairs had taken, and was fain to indulge in a sarcasm or two about the propriety of every person minding his own business.’
      • ‘If you would grant but my request, I then most surely should be blest; But if you treat me with disdain, To hang myself I now would fain; Then pray consent and make me thine, To save from death your Valentine.’


  • With pleasure; gladly.

    ‘I am weary and would fain get a little rest’
    • ‘There was something else which she would fain have said, and she stabbed with her finger into the air in the direction of the Doctor's [i.e. her stepfather's room], but a fresh convulsion seized her and choked her words.’
    • ‘I would fain be friends with you, for their sake.’
    • ‘And I fain would think that this world of ours is a good world after all.’
    • ‘With such a comrade, such a friend, I fain would walk till journeys end,’
    • ‘‘Depend upon it that, rude and careless as I am, I would fain practice the yoga faithfully,’ he writes.’
    with pleasure, happily, cheerfully
    View synonyms


Old English fægen ‘happy, well pleased’, of Germanic origin, from a base meaning ‘rejoice’; related to fawn.