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Etymology 1[edit]

From Middle English aught, ought, from Old English āht, from ā (always", "ever) + wiht (thing", "creature). More at aye, wight.

Alternative forms[edit]



  1. anything whatsoever, any part.
    • 1596-97, William Shakespeare, The Merchant of Venice, Act II, Scene ii[1]:
      [...] wouldst thou aught with me?
    • 1713, Joseph Addison, Cato, published 1712, [Act 5, scene 2]:
      But go, my son, and see if aught be wanting.
    • 1678, John Bunyan, The Pilgrim’s Progress from This World, to That which is to Come: [], London: Printed for Nath[aniel] Ponder [], OCLC 228725984; reprinted in The Pilgrim’s Progress (The Noel Douglas Replicas), London: Noel Douglas, [], 1928, OCLC 5190338, page 129:
      Then Proclamation was made, that they that had ought to ſay for their Lord the King againſt the Priſoner at the Bar, ſhould forthwith appear and give in their evidence.
    • 1748. David Hume. Enquiries concerning the human understanding and concerning the principles of moral. London, Oxford University Press, 1973. § 29.
      [] to other objects, which for aught we know, may be only in appearance similar.
    • 1886-88, Richard F. Burton, The Supplemental Nights to the Thousand Nights and a Night:
      But as soon as her son espied her, bowl in hand, he thought that haply something untoward had befallen her, but he would not ask of aught until such time as she had set down the bowl, when she acquainted him with that which had occurred []
    • 1912: Edgar Rice Burroughs, Tarzan of the Apes, chapter 5
      His life among these fierce apes had been happy; for his recollection held no other life, nor did he know that there existed within the universe aught else than his little forest and the wild jungle animals with which he was familiar.
    • 1977: J. R. R. Tolkien, Silmarillion, Ainulindalë
      There was Eru, the One, who in Arda is called Ilúvatar; and he made first the Ainur, the Holy Ones, that were the offspring of his thought, and they were with him before aught else was made.

Etymology 2[edit]

Meaning of "zero" by confusion with naught. Used amongst those who were once called "non-U" speakers of English.


aught (plural aughts)

  1. whit, the smallest part, iota.
  2. (archaic) zero
  3. The digit zero as the decade in years. For example, aught-nine for 1909 or 2009.
Usage notes[edit]

The use of "aught" and "ought" to mean "zero" is very much proscribed as the word "aught" originally meant the opposite of "naught": "anything". This may be due to misanalysis, or may simply be the result of speakers confusing the meanings of "aught" and "naught" due to similar-sounding phonemes.

See also[edit]


aught (not comparable)

  1. (archaic) At all, in any degree, in any respect.


Etymology 3[edit]

From Middle English aught (estimation, regard, reputation), from Old English æht (estimation, consideration), from Proto-Germanic *ahtō. Cognate with Dutch acht (attention, regard, heed), German Acht (attention, regard). Also see ettle.


aught (uncountable)

  1. (regional) Estimation.
    In my aught.
  2. (regional) Of importance or consequence (in the phrase "of aught").
    An event of aught.
  3. (regional, rare, obsolete) Esteem, respect.
    A man of aught (a man of high esteem, an important or well-respected man).
    Show some aught to your elders, boy.

Usage notes[edit]

In the first sense, generally found in the phrase "in one's aught" as inː "In my aught, this play ain't worth the candle". In the second sense, generally found in the phrase "of aught" as inː "nothing of aught has happened since you've been away, Sir". In the third sense, generally found in the phrase "a man of aught", or rarely in the more archaic phrase "to show somebody or something (some) aught" as inː "show your mother some aught, son".


Etymology 4[edit]

From Middle English aught, ought, from Old English ǣht, from Proto-Germanic *aihtiz (possessions, property).

Alternative forms[edit]


aught (plural aughts)

  1. Property; possession
    (Can we find and add a quotation of Sir Walter Scott to this entry?)
  2. Duty; place; office


aught (third-person singular simple present aughts, present participle aughting, simple past and past participle aughted)

  1. to own, possess
  2. to owe, be obliged or obligated to


aught (comparative more aught, superlative most aught)

  1. possessed of

Etymology 5[edit]

From Middle English ahte, from Old English eahta (eight). More at eight.



  1. Obsolete or dialectal form of eight.