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See also: aint


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Alternative forms[edit]


According to Etymology Online, the term was first attested in 1706 meaning am not, and it was used with that sense until the early 19th century, when it began to be used as a generic contraction for are not, is not, etc. in the Cockney dialect. It was then "popularized by representations of this in Dickens, etc., which led to the word being banished from correct English."[1]

The shift from /ænt/ to /eɪnt/ parallels a similar change some dialects made to can't. In other dialects, the pronunciation shifted to /ɑːnt/, and the spelling aren't, when used to mean “am not”, is due to the fact that both words are pronounced /ɑːnt/ in some non-rhotic dialects. Historically, ain't was present in many dialects of the English language, but not in the southeastern England dialect that became the standard, where it is only found in the construction ain't I.

As a contraction of have not and has not, ain't derives from the earlier form han't, which shifted from /hænt/ to /heɪnt/, and underwent h-dropping in most dialects.


  • (UK, dialectal) IPA(key): /eɪnt/, /ɪnt/, /ɛnt/, /ænt/
  • (US) IPA(key): /eɪnt/
  • (file)
  • Rhymes: -eɪnt



  1. (dialectal or informal) Am not.
    I ain't ready yet; gimme a sec.
  2. (dialectal or informal) Are not, aren’t; is not, isn’t; am not.
    • 1851, Sojourner Truth, Ain't I a Woman?:
      Ain't I a woman?
    • 1885, Gilbert & Sullivan, The Mikado:
      We figure in lively paint:
      Our attitude’s queer and quaint —
      You’re wrong if you think it ain’t, oh!
    • 1953, Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller, Hound Dog:
      You ain't nothin' but a hound dog.
    • 1964, Bob Dylan (lyrics and music), “It Ain't Me Babe”:
      It ain't me you're looking for.
  3. (dialectal or informal) Have not, haven’t; has not, hasn’t, when used as an auxiliary.
    • 1996, Rage Against the Machine, Down Rodeo
      These people ain't seen a brown skin man since their grandparents bought one
    • 2006, Bob Dylan, Nettie More:
      Got a pile of sins to pay for and I ain't got time to hide / I'd walk through a blazing fire, baby, if I knew you was on the other side.


  • (am not): amn't (Ireland, Scotland), an't (dialectal, archaic)
  • (have not, has not): hain't, han't (both dialectal, archaic)

Derived terms[edit]



  1. ^ Douglas Harper (2001–2023), “ain't”, in Online Etymology Dictionary.