Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • Nonstandard Contraction of am not.
  • Nonstandard Used also as a contraction for are not, is not, has not, and have not.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • are not, aren’t; is not, isn’t; am not.
  • have not, haven’t; has not, hasn’t.
  • do not, don’t; does not, doesn’t; did not, didn’t.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • A contraction for are not and am not; also used for is not. [Colloq. or illiterate speech]. See an't.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. A vulgar contraction of the negative phrases am not and are not: often used for is not, and also, with a variant hain't, for have not and has not.

Etymologies

1. From the earlier form an’t, a contraction of am not, are not, and is not. The shift from IPA: /ænt/ to IPA: /eɪnt/ parallels a similar change in some dialects with can’t. In other dialects the pronunciation shifted to IPA: /ɑːnt/, and the spelling aren’t, when used to mean “am not”, is due to the fact that both words are pronounced IPA: /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 aren’t I?. (Wiktionary)

Examples

Comments

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  • See comments on aren't I.

    December 29, 2010

  • Despite the many convincing arguments for ain't as a contraction for 'I am not', I find myself cringing at the thought of it becoming a universally accepted part of the English language. Perhaps that is because it evokes images of illiterate hillbillies and other uneducated classes of society. Unfortunately, it is those very people who drive the change in language. Misuse of words and slang become commonplace and eventually wind up in the dictionary, thus language evolves. I guess I have to live with it but liking it is, to quote another of my pet peeves "a whole nother thing"!

    May 20, 2009

  • "I didn't spell 'ain't,' I spelled 'aquaintanceship!'"

    April 7, 2009

  • The word "Moby" also appears in Moby Dick...

    May 27, 2008

  • The word "ain't" appears in Herman Melville's "Moby Dick." I'd say that's about all the support the English languages needs for its official inclusion in the language.

    May 26, 2008

  • The word "ain't" appears in Herman Melville's "Moby Dick." I'd say that's about all the support the English languages needs for its official inclusion in the language.

    May 26, 2008

  • Don't say ain't or your mother will faint, your father will fall in a bucket of paint, your sister will cry, your brother will die, and the dog will call the FBI.

    February 18, 2007

  • Then there's "Ain't No Sunshine When She's Gone".

    January 29, 2007

  • Ain't is a contraction for "am not". Another form is "amn't" but that's hard to pronounce, no? It was further shortened to "a'n't" or "ain't". We're accepting of "we aren't" in the first person plural, "they aren't" in the third person plural, "he isn't" and "she isn't" and "it isn't" in the third person singular, and "you aren't" in the second person singular and plural. So why the resistance to "I ain't" in the first person singular? Granted, the extension of "ain't" to the second person singular (cf. the song "Is You or Is You Ain't My Baby" by Billy Austin and Louis Jordan) and to the third person singular (cf. "It Ain't Me Babe" by Bob Dylan) is problematic, albeit fun. But as far as I can see, "I ain't" is fair game.

    January 14, 2007

  • What is wrong with this word? It has been part of Standard English since at least the time of Twain, and will continue to be so. It is not acceptable written English, but then many things people say aren't.

    January 9, 2007

  • I don't know who thought that it would be a good idea to officially make that a word, but they should be tarred and feathered for it!

    January 8, 2007

  • Poor ain't. So universally reviled by Latin-loving prescriptivist grammar Nazis. Yet so wonderfully Anglo-Saxon.

    December 9, 2006