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Obtainable vs. Attainable — What's the Difference?

Edited by Tayyaba Rehman — By Fiza Rafique — Updated on October 30, 2023
"Obtainable" refers to something that can be acquired or procured, while "Attainable" denotes something that can be achieved or reached, often after some effort.
Obtainable vs. Attainable — What's the Difference?

Difference Between Obtainable and Attainable


Key Differences

"Obtainable" primarily focuses on the aspect of acquiring or procuring something. When something is described as Obtainable, it means that it can be secured or gotten, often in a tangible manner. For instance, items in a store are Obtainable for purchase. Conversely, "Attainable" revolves around the idea of achievement. It signifies that a particular goal or target can be reached, often requiring effort, planning, or strategy.
The context in which these words are used also offers insight into their differences. "Obtainable" usually deals with tangible items or information. When a book is available in a library, or a certain model of a car is on sale, they are described as Obtainable. On the other hand, "Attainable" often correlates with abstract concepts, like dreams, objectives, or standards. An individual might set an Attainable goal for their career, or a team might work towards an Attainable milestone.
Interestingly, the root words of these terms, "obtain" and "attain," also differ subtly. While both mean to get or achieve something, "obtain" implies a straightforward act of acquisition, whereas "attain" implies a journey or progression towards a certain goal.
Furthermore, the nuances in their application highlight the divergent nature of these words. A collectible item, for instance, might be hard to find but still Obtainable if someone knows where to look. Yet, personal growth, such as acquiring a new skill, is more about what's Attainable based on an individual's dedication and the resources available.
To summarize, while both "Obtainable" and "Attainable" discuss the feasibility of acquiring or achieving something, their core implications vary. The former gravitates towards tangible acquisition, while the latter leans into the realm of achieving often abstract milestones.

Comparison Chart


Acquiring or procuring.
Achieving or reaching.

Common Context

Tangible items or information.
Goals, objectives, or standards.

Root Implication

Direct acquisition.
A journey or progression towards a goal.


More passive in implication.
Implies effort, strategy, or planning.

Associated Action

To get or secure something.
To work towards or achieve something.

Compare with Definitions


Accessible or available for use or purchase.
The product is Obtainable online.


Able to be arrived at or reached.
With perseverance, success is Attainable.


Within one's reach or ability to secure.
The ticket for the show is still Obtainable.


Feasible to be achieved after effort or planning.
A balanced lifestyle is Attainable with discipline.


Capable of being acquired or secured.
The limited edition toy is no longer Obtainable in stores.


Possible to accomplish or realize.
The company set an Attainable target for this quarter.


Able to be gotten or procured.
The information is Obtainable through public records.


Within one's capabilities or limits.
With proper training, that speed is Attainable for him.


Possible to achieve or secure.
The rare ingredient is Obtainable at specialty stores.


Capable of being achieved or reached.
With hard work, her dreams are Attainable.


To succeed in gaining possession of as the result of planning or endeavor; acquire.


To gain as an objective; achieve
Attain a diploma by hard work.


To be in existence, in effect, or customary
"standards, proprieties that no longer obtain" (Meg Greenfield).


To come to or arrive at, as through movement, growth, or the passage of time
Redwoods can attain a height of 300 feet.


(Archaic) To succeed.


To succeed in a directed effort, process, or progression
Attained to high office.
Eventually attained to wisdom.


Able to be obtained.


Able to be accomplished, achieved, or obtained.


Capable of being obtained.


Something that can be attained.


Capable of being obtained;
Savings of up to 50 percent are obtainable


Capable of being attained or reached by efforts of the mind or body; capable of being compassed or accomplished by efforts directed to the object.
The highest pitch of perfection attainable in this life.


General Howe would not permit the purchase of those articles [clothes and blankets] in Philadelphia, and they were not attainable in the country.


Capable of being attained or accomplished;
Choose an attainable goal
Art is not something that is come-at-able by dint of study

Common Curiosities

Are all resources in a library Obtainable?

Most resources in a library are Obtainable for borrowing or reference, but some might have restrictions.

Are all Obtainable things also Attainable?

Not necessarily. Some Obtainable things might be easily acquired, while some Attainable goals may require significant effort.

Can personal goals be both Obtainable and Attainable?

Yes, a personal goal might be Obtainable (available to be achieved) and Attainable (achievable with effort).

Are all items on sale Obtainable?

While on sale, items are typically Obtainable, but stock limitations might apply.

Is setting unrealistic goals related to Attainability?

Yes, unrealistic goals are often considered unAttainable because they are difficult or impossible to achieve.

Can one's potential be labeled as Attainable?

Yes, realizing one's potential can be an Attainable goal.

Can rare items still be Obtainable?

Yes, rare items can be Obtainable but might be hard to find or acquire.

Can something be Attainable but not Obtainable?

Yes, abstract goals might be Attainable (achievable) but not Obtainable (cannot be physically secured).

Can "Obtainable" refer to intangible things?

Yes, things like information or digital assets can be Obtainable.

Does the journey towards an objective relate to Attainability?

Yes, the journey or effort to reach a goal pertains to its Attainability.

Does Attainable always imply a need for hard work?

Not always. Some goals are Attainable with minimal effort, while others require significant work.

If something is out of stock, is it still Obtainable?

It might be temporarily unObtainable, but could become available later.

Are all dreams Attainable?

While many dreams are Attainable with effort, some might remain out of reach due to various factors.

Can "Obtainable" refer to goals?

Yes, but it emphasizes the availability rather than the effort to achieve them.

Is "Attainable" only used for challenging tasks?

No, "Attainable" can refer to any task or goal, challenging or not.

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Author Spotlight

Written by
Fiza Rafique
Fiza Rafique is a skilled content writer at, where she meticulously refines and enhances written pieces. Drawing from her vast editorial expertise, Fiza ensures clarity, accuracy, and precision in every article. Passionate about language, she continually seeks to elevate the quality of content for readers worldwide.
Tayyaba Rehman is a distinguished writer, currently serving as a primary contributor to As a researcher in semantics and etymology, Tayyaba's passion for the complexity of languages and their distinctions has found a perfect home on the platform. Tayyaba delves into the intricacies of language, distinguishing between commonly confused words and phrases, thereby providing clarity for readers worldwide.

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