This is a definition for "draw" from thefreedictionary.com:


b. To select or "take in" from a given group, type, or region: draw clients from all levels of society.

These are definitions for "Take in" from the thefreedicitonary.com

"take in"

  1. To admit someone. Used of institutions: The academy takes in only four new students per year. The university took the transfer student in.

"take in"

  1. Admit, receive as a guest or employee, as in They offered to take in two of the orphaned children. [First half of 1500s]

"take in"

  1. To admit someone into one's care or employment. A noun or pronoun can be used between "take" and "in." My aunt took in my brother and me when our parents died.

I only provided definitions from thefreedictionary but I was looking in many, and I could only find ones which had essentially the same meanings. All of these definitions convey the meaning of admitting somebody but it isn't stated anywhere that these could be potential clients of a business. Does take in simply mean to "admit" in this context and does the term encompasses admission of any person or thing to any group of people or things?

Is "take in" a phrasal verb here? What does it mean?

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    Please note that 'the freedictionary' is a compilation of sets of definitions from many different dictionaries. There is a note below each set saying where they come from. The one you found is from 'The American Heritage Dictionary'. Aug 6, 2022 at 5:29
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    The fact that they use an example sentence which mentions clients doesn't mean that draw in this sense has to refer to them. You might just as well speak of a school which draws its pupils from a certain area, or a theatre drawing its audience. Aug 6, 2022 at 5:41

3 Answers 3


To draw can mean lots of things, from sketching out a object on paper to pulling something - either metaphorically or literally - towards you (which is why a drawer is called a "drawer": you pull it towards you).

To draw in the sense we're thinking of here comes from the idea of pulling things ... or in this case people ... towards the subject of the sentence.

It's most useful when referring to pulling people towards you in the sense of attracting them.

I think definition b. of "draw" using the term "take in" is no more than a pretty much secondary meaning. The sense of "take in" used is that of "include": to include within a market segment, section of society or, in this case, a (very broad) category of people whom we wish to attract as clients.

Frankly, though, the definition you quote from thefreeDictionary.com seems less than rigorous to me. In the sample sentence given, "draw" doesn't appear to mean "take in" in any established sense; it rather indicates that the mysterious subject attracts (or chooses to/intends to/tries to attract) "people from all levels of society."

That it draws such people may imply that they are then taken in once they've been pulled in successfully, but it that's not a primary meaning of 'to draw.'

The short answer to your question is that "to take in" in the sense meant by the dictionary means "to include" (perhaps in the sense of including a group in a target clientele, audience or similar). In my 'umble opinion, it's not a very close synonym for any sense of "to draw."

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    @Jamie So what you are saying is that the sample-sentence is poorly chosen for it's definition, I get it. Does the proper definition for 'draw" in this case is :2. To attract customers or spectators: The new play is drawing well.? Feb 6, 2023 at 14:08
  • If I've understood you correctly, then "to attract customers or spectators" (or badgers or sparrows or whatever) would seem a good definition of one sense of the verb alright. It's little more than an synonym for "pull." And in that sense you could absolutely not replace "draw" with "take in"! The name's Jaime, by the way ... with the i before the m. Confusingly, it's the Spanish forename, and not the English one. Don't worry, though, everyone does it. I just wanted to tell you early. ;o)
    – Jaime
    Feb 7, 2023 at 15:38

Take in is a phrasal verb and it has several meanings depending on how we're using it.

take somebody in: to let someone stay in your house because they have nowhere else to stay.

It can also be used for groups and societies which you already mentioned, means "to admit".

take something in: to understand and remember new facts and information which means "to absorb"

There are other definitions but I hope you got your answer.


I think you may have confused 'take in' with '*take on'.

Businesses often refer to 'taking on' a client, which means that they have accepted them. This is especially common when a business may have certain criteria for accepting a client, for example, lawyers may only take on particular kinds of cases.

'Take in' is nearly always associated with lodging and institutions as per the dictionary examples you quoted. Schools and universities have an annual intake of students. Businesses with ongoing clients also often speak of a client being on their books, referring to the time when written ledgers were kept.

  • But guys, the question is "what does take in mean in this context and no one has answered it. Aug 6, 2022 at 21:28
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    It means what it says. If a school draws pupils from a certain district, it takes them in - admits them as students of the school. Aug 8, 2022 at 18:32

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