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- learn: [OE] Learn comes from a prehistoric West Germanic *liznōjan, which also produced German lernen. This goes back ultimately to an Indo-European *leis- ‘track’, and so seems to carry the underlying notion of ‘gaining experience by following a track’. Very closely related are terms in various Germanic languages for ‘teach’ (German lehren, for instance, and Dutch leeren, Swedish löra, and Danish lære – the last three also mean ‘learn’). English used to have such a verb for ‘teach’ too: lere. It had largely died out by the 19th century, but the related lore ‘knowledge’ [OE] survives.
=> last, lore
- learn (v.)
- Old English leornian "to get knowledge, be cultivated, study, read, think about," from Proto-Germanic *liznojan (cognates: Old Frisian lernia, Middle Dutch leeren, Dutch leren, Old High German lernen, German lernen "to learn," Gothic lais "I know"), with a base sense of "to follow or find the track," from PIE *leis- (1) "track, furrow." Related to German Gleis "track," and to Old English læst "sole of the foot" (see last (n.)).
The transitive sense (He learned me how to read), now vulgar, was acceptable from c. 1200 until early 19c., from Old English læran "to teach" (cognates: Dutch leren, German lehren "to teach," literally "to make known;" see lore), and is preserved in past participle adjective learned "having knowledge gained by study." Related: Learning.
- 1. No matter where you go in life or how old you get, there's always something new to learn about. After all, life is full of surprises.
- 2. Eventually, you'll learn to cry that on the inside.
- 3. Did you learn anything in your day, as a student?
- 4. The psychiatrist must learn to maintain an unusual degree of objectivity.
- 5. I would have to learn, little by little, to exist alone.
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