American English

Definition of learn verb from the Oxford Advanced American Dictionary



    Verb Forms present simple I / you / we / they learn
    he / she / it learns
    past simple learnt
    past simple learned
    -ing form learning
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  1. 1[transitive, intransitive] to gain knowledge or skill by studying, from experience, from being taught, etc. learn something to learn a language/a musical instrument/a skill learn something from somebody/something I learned a lot from my father. learn something from doing something I learned a lot about basketball just from watching him play. learn (about something) She's very eager to learn about Japanese culture. The book is about how children learn. learn to do something He's learning to dance. learn how, what, etc… He's still learning how to dance. Today we learned how to use the new software.
  2. 2[intransitive, transitive] to become aware of something by hearing about it from someone else synonym discover learn of/about something I learned of her arrival from a close friend. learn (that)… We were very surprised to learn (that) she got married again. learn who, what, etc… We only learned who the new teacher was a few days ago. learn something How did they react when they learned the news? it is learned that… It has been learned that 500 jobs will be lost at the factory.
  3. 3[transitive] learn something to study and repeat something in order to be able to remember it synonym memorize We have to learn one of Hamlet's speeches for school tomorrow.
  4. 4[intransitive, transitive] to gradually change your attitudes about something so that you behave in a different way learn (from something) I'm sure she'll learn from her mistakes. learn (that)… He'll just have to learn (that) he can't always have his own way. learn to do something I soon learned not to ask too many questions.
  5. Idioms
    learn (something) the hard way
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    to find out how to behave by learning from your mistakes or from unpleasant experiences, rather than from being told
    learn your lesson
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    to learn what to do or not to do in the future because you have had a bad experience in the past
    (you) live and learn
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    used to express surprise at something new or unexpected you have been told
    show somebody/know/learn the ropes (informal)
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    to show someone/know/learn how a particular job should be done
Vocabulary Buildingdifferent ways of learning learnHe’s learning Spanish/to swim. studyShe studied chemistry for three years. I have to study for my test tomorrow. reviewIn this class we’ll review what we did last week. practiceIf you practice speaking English, you’ll soon get better and better. rehearseWe had only two weeks to rehearse the play.
See the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary entry: learn