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Do we know that "The supposition that the original meaning of ain't was am not is a myth." According to this web site: that I found while researching amn't:

English doesn't like two nasal consonants like "m" and "n" together, however, and in most dialects they merged into "an't", the spelling of which eventually evolved into "ain't". Kevin Rector 04:50, 28 Apr 2005 (UTC)
I would love to see this article sourced. Without sourcing, I tend to believe that there may be more to this. I often have to research such questions for work, so I know how hard this can be. Still, I would like to see such sourcing that was not the fruit of hours of my own labor, for once. In fact, the wikipedia article for ain't tells a different story alltogether, but it's still not sourced.--Smallwhitelight 21:56, 6 Jun 2005 (UTC).-- 21:52, 6 Jun 2005 (UTC)
I agree. Etymologies and usage notes are two areas where we could stand to be much more rigorous. Otherwise, there are bound to be continual edit wars over whose story is correct. Unfortunately, sourcing etymologies and patterns of use is a lot harder than sourcing definitions (which just requires a few supporting quotes). -dmh 18:31, 20 October 2005 (UTC)
I noticed that someone changed "is looked down upon" to "is still considered an illiteracy". Was there discussion behind this, or was it just Bold? -dmh 19:10, 19 January 2007 (UTC)
  • FWIW: From Online Etymology: ain't -1706, originally a contraction of am not, and in proper use with that sense until it began to be used as a generic contraction for are not, is not, etc., in early 19c. Cockney dialect of London; popularized by representations of this in Dickens, etc., which led to the word being banished from correct English. --AnWulf ... Ferþu Hal! 13:45, 10 January 2012 (UTC)

"ain't" as "have not"[edit]

I don't think I've ever heard "ain't" meaning "have not" except where "have" is an auxiliary - "I ain't a clue" sounds strange to me (it would mean "I'm not a clue"), but "I ain't got a clue" (heard quite frequently on EastEnders) sounds quite natural. Anyone else have any thoughts on this? Hairy Dude 18:59, 3 March 2006 (UTC)

Yep, it's the auxiliary sense. Another common form is ain't never, as "He ain't never been there." (He hasn't ever been there) -dmh


I believe that the word aint (no apostrophe necessary) can be correctly used to mean 'is not' as it was in polite society in victorian England. It only became slang in recent times. Ref. the novels of Anthony Trollope. —This unsigned comment was added by 20:30, 21 March 2006‎ (talkcontribs) at

One thing to point out is there may be a difference between usage in the UK and US. I don't know what things are like across the pond, but here in the US ain't has a high stigma attached and is mainly heard in less educated speech. I've known a few people from the UK who've surprised me with use of ain't, in cases where an American saying the same thing may come off as a redneck and would probably avoid saying it. –Andyluciano 06:09, 24 July 2006 (UTC)
"High stigma?" ... Maybe if you live in the NE. In the South there is no stigma attached to it except by a few pedants (and often they are yankee transplants). It's use is common across all classes. I'v heard it in many Midwestern states and across the Plains. I don't think you speak for the whole US. --AnWulf ... Ferþu Hal! 13:45, 10 January 2012 (UTC)
I'm from the Midwest (N.Dak., Iowa, Ind.), and yes it's used, but there is definitely a difference between different classes. Many people (like me) only use it for emphasis or humor. Eric Kvaalen (talk) 14:00, 3 August 2014 (UTC)

is possibly stigmatized often based on "racist" issues[edit]

Where does this come from? The usage of ain't has nothing to do with race or jargon associated with race. It has entirely to do with how one wants to be perceived in regards to their education, intellect or social status. Usage of what has been considered slang does not identify one's race or bigotry.

Tea room discussion[edit]

Note: the below discussion was moved from the Wiktionary:Tea room.

I believe a couple of points in the usage notes may only apply to the US, or don't apply to UK usage. For example, "This word is commonly considered non-standard and is possibly stigmatized often based on racist issues,", well I am not aware of any racial issue surrounding 'ain't' in England. Also "However, its use is common among all social classes." In England, I would say its use is not common among all social classes, it's more of (but not exclusively) a working-class thing. It sounds like 'ain't' is somehow more controversial in the US than the UK. In England, it's just part of some accents like a London accent, and sounds a bit slangy. If anyone is aware of these issues existing in the UK then I would be interested to know about it. Kaixinguo 20:13, 17 October 2008 (UTC)

I agree with you, I know of no racial connotations to "ain't" in the UK. It is a feature of some dialects more than others - I head it far more in Yorkshire than in Somerset for example. It's a slang word that isn't considered proper, at least in middle and upper class speech, although I'm not sure I'd go so far as to say it's working class. Thryduulf 11:36, 25 October 2008 (UTC)
I think that "ain't" is just a focal point for broader concerns about dialectal English in the US, which are somewhat associated with race and with education policy and practice. Although ain't is used in AAVE, it is also used in dialects of mostly white speakers. As statistics suggest, we don't seem to have enough US users, especially contributors, to be well covered with respect to US regional dialects and slang. DCDuring TALK 12:15, 25 October 2008 (UTC)
As a Southerner, I can tell you that ain't is used across all classes both black and white in the South in speech. --AnWulf ... Ferþu Hal! 13:45, 10 January 2012 (UTC)
AAVE is notoriously similar to spoken Southern American English and some of its features are even more widespread in English – but the features of AAVE which are simply features of spoken/dialectal English are often misjudged as "broken English": whites perceive "incorrect" (but really only nonstandard) features (such as double negation) in the speech of blacks (and also in pidgins/creoles or creoloids) even though they use them themselves, a classic case of mote and beam (in this case out of racist prejudice). --Florian Blaschke (talk) 21:31, 13 May 2012 (UTC)

RFC discussion: August 2010–March 2015[edit]

TK archive icon.svg

The following discussion has been moved from Wiktionary:Requests for cleanup (permalink).

This discussion is no longer live and is left here as an archive. Please do not modify this conversation, but feel free to discuss its conclusions.

I think the usage notes need work; for example, they include the word "racist", but the syntax is so poor that it's not clear who's being accused of racism. (I imagine the intent is something like, "This Wiktionarian thinks some of the attitude toward ain't is due to racist attitudes toward AAVE", but it's really not clear.) There are no references, so I'm half-tempted to just remove them, but I think there's something useful to be said here, and the current notes may be a start in that direction. —RuakhTALK 19:12, 5 August 2010 (UTC)

In the five years since this thread was opened, someone has removed the usage notes entirely. - -sche (discuss) 04:09, 7 March 2015 (UTC)

(African American Vernacular) Used before an emphatic negative subject[edit]

Isn't ain't used in AAVE before an emphatic negative subject as is don’t (don't nobody care), e.g. 'ain't nobody got time for that' unless it's a question, which I do not know Backinstadiums (talk) 11:16, 14 November 2016 (UTC)