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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 London cockney dialect 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.


  • IPA(key): /eɪnt/
  • (dialectal) IPA(key): /ɪnt/, /ɛnt/, /ænt/
  • (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, 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.
  4. (dialectal or informal) Don't, doesn't.
    Well, I ain't wanna do that though.
    • 2009 June 1, Sandra Kay, Haunted Secrets, AuthorHouse, →ISBN, page 248:
      "I ain't like it; I ain't like it a tall.[sic]" Jesse leaned down to help Israel. Then he stood back up and shouted again, "Youes crazy! Youes both crazy!" "Crazy we'z may be, but we'z still living and Ben dare ain't.
    • 2013 June 1, Muriel Mharie Macleod, What the River Washed Away, Simon and Schuster, →ISBN:
      We ain't able to go on out there telling folks in this world what we wanna be and what we ain't wanna be. That ain't our world honey, and learning is fine, ya done good, that's for sure, but ain't no time for dreaming.
    • 2013 June 11, Julia Blues, Parallel Pasts: A Novel, Simon and Schuster, →ISBN, page 62:
      “He ain't love me.” She brings me back to the now. “I knew he ain't the first time he put his hands on me.”
    • 2015, James Park Canfield, School-based Practice with Children and Youth Experiencing Homelessness, Sswaa Workshop, →ISBN, page 100:
      I ask her if we can do it during fifth period cause I ain't like econ. She say no, we gotta do it in fourth.
  5. (dialectal or informal) Didn't.
    I ain't go into the bathroom last night that late.
    • 2006 September 16, “Uncommon Valor: A Vietnam Story” (track 4), in Servants in Heaven, Kings in Hell[1], performed by Jedi Mind Tricks:
      My son died, he ain't live but I still try to think positive 'cause in life God take, God give.
    • 2011 September 13, “Niggas in Paris” (track 3), in Watch the Throne[2], performed by Jay-Z,Kanye West:
      Prince Williams ain't do it right, if you ask me. 'Cause I was him, I would have married Kate and Ashley.
    • 2012 May 30, Awnye` Latrice, Love's Remix, Author House, →ISBN, page 121:
      “[...] ’Cause if I ain't love you as much as I do, we wouldn't be together right now. Don't sit over there actin' like you did somethin' magical,” Jada vented.
    • 2014, RG Camp, Raging Currents[3]:
      She ain’t want da state to split us up so she dropped er last yur’a high school to take cur’a us.
    • 2019 July 5, “Under the Sun” (track 1), in Revenge of the Dreamers III[4], performed by J. Cole, Lute (rapper), and DaBaby:
      [Verse 3:DaBaby]:I just put diamonds on all of my teeth, now they probably think I ain't intelligent. In the homicide unit interrogation, asking questions, you know I ain't tell 'em shit.


  • (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 (2001–2024) “ain't”, in Online Etymology Dictionary.