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Attainable vs. Obtainable: What's the Difference?

Edited by Harlon Moss || By Janet White || Published on November 1, 2023
"Attainable" refers to something achievable with effort or skill, while "obtainable" means something can be acquired or procured.

Key Differences

"Attainable" and "obtainable" are terms that are often used interchangeably, but they have nuances that differentiate them. Attainable typically implies the possibility of reaching, achieving, or accomplishing something, often requiring effort, skill, or a particular process. This word is often used when discussing goals or milestones. On the other hand, obtainable emphasizes the ability to get, acquire, or procure something. It's more about accessibility and availability than the effort involved in reaching a goal.
For instance, in the realm of personal goals, if someone says a target is attainable, it suggests that with the right amount of effort, strategy, and perseverance, that target can be reached. However, if a resource or item is described as obtainable, it signifies that it can be gotten or secured, perhaps by purchase or request. The emphasis here is not on the effort to achieve but on the possibility of acquisition.
Think about a rare book. If it's described as attainable, this might suggest that with diligent searching and perhaps a bit of luck, one could find a copy to purchase. If the same book is described as obtainable, it means there are ways to get it, perhaps through specific vendors or libraries. The nuance is subtle, but it's there.
In a professional context, if a promotion or certain career level is attainable, it conveys the idea that with the right qualifications, experience, and performance, one can achieve that position. Meanwhile, if a certificate or a piece of equipment is obtainable, it means one can get it, maybe by completing a course or making a purchase.

Comparison Chart


Achievable with effort or skill.
Can be acquired or procured.


Effort and achievement.
Accessibility and availability.

Usage Context

Goals, milestones.
Resources, items.

Associated Action

Reaching, accomplishing.
Getting, securing.


Achieving a personal best in a marathon.
Acquiring a rare book from a vendor.

Attainable and Obtainable Definitions


Achievable through effort or action.
With dedication, a balanced lifestyle is attainable.


Able to be acquired or procured.
The collector's edition is still obtainable online.


Possible to reach or accomplish.
A gold medal is attainable for top athletes.


Within reach for acquisition.
Rare stamps are obtainable at specialty shops.


Realizable with the right approach or strategy.
With the right study techniques, high grades are attainable.


Accessible for those seeking to get or secure.
Tickets for the concert are obtainable at the box office.


Within the bounds of capability.
For her, singing those high notes is easily attainable.


Available for possession or use.
Organic ingredients are obtainable at the local market.


Accessible with the necessary skills or qualifications.
For those with experience, managerial positions 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.


Possible to be gotten or secured.
With a library card, numerous resources become obtainable.


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


Is every obtainable goal also attainable?

Not necessarily. Some obtainable items might not be attainable due to personal limitations.

Is something that's sold out still obtainable?

Not immediately, but it might be obtainable later or from other sources.

If something is rare, is it still obtainable?

Yes, rarity doesn't negate the fact that it's obtainable, just potentially harder to find.

Does "attainable" always require hard work?

Often, but not always. It emphasizes the possibility of achievement.

Is something obtainable if it's only available in another country?

Yes, it might require extra effort or cost, but it's still obtainable.

Do both "attainable" and "obtainable" imply possibility?

Yes, but "attainable" emphasizes effort while "obtainable" emphasizes acquisition.

Can personal growth be considered attainable?

Yes, with the right effort and mindset, personal growth is attainable.

Are digital products obtainable?

Yes, they can be downloaded or accessed online, making them obtainable.

Are limited-edition items always obtainable?

They are obtainable while supplies last or from secondary markets.

Can "attainable" refer to physical fitness goals?

Absolutely, like "running a marathon is attainable with training."

Are vintage items obtainable?

Yes, often from specialty shops, auctions, or collectors.

Can "attainable" refer to skills or abilities?

Yes, like "becoming a skilled pianist is attainable with practice."

Can "attainable" apply to abstract concepts?

Yes, concepts like "happiness" or "peace" can be described as attainable.

Can a mindset be attainable?

Yes, a particular mindset can be attainable with self-awareness and effort.

Is self-improvement attainable for everyone?

While individual results vary, the process of self-improvement is attainable for most.

If something is expensive, is it still obtainable?

Yes, cost doesn't negate obtainability, but it might limit who can obtain it.

Does "attainable" apply to educational milestones?

Yes, like "earning a PhD is attainable with dedication."

Are items in a locked vault obtainable?

Not legally or easily, but theoretically, they're obtainable.

Are out-of-print books obtainable?

They can be harder to find but are often obtainable from used bookstores or collectors.

Can "attainable" apply to financial goals?

Yes, like "buying a home is attainable with savings and good credit."
About Author
Written by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.
Edited by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.

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