- any of numerous black, red, brown, or yellow social insects of the family Formicidae, of worldwide distribution especially in warm climates, having a large head with inner jaws for chewing and outer jaws for carrying and digging, and living in highly organized colonies containing wingless female workers, a winged queen, and, during breeding seasons, winged males, some species being noted for engaging in warfare, slavemaking, or the cultivation of food sources.
- have ants in one's pants, Slang. to be impatient or eager to act or speak.
Origin of ant
- variant of anti- before a vowel or h: antacid; anthelmintic.
- a suffix forming adjectives and nouns from verbs, occurring originally in French and Latin loanwords (pleasant; constant; servant) and productive in English on this model; -ant has the general sense “characterized by or serving in the capacity of” that named by the stem (ascendant; pretendant), especially in the formation of nouns denoting human agents in legal actions or other formal procedures (tenant; defendant; applicant; contestant). In technical and commercial coinages, -ant is a suffix of nouns denoting impersonal physical agents (propellant; lubricant; deodorant). In general, -ant can be added only to bases of Latin origin, with a very few exceptions, as coolant.
Origin of -ant
- Chiefly British Dialect. contraction of am not.
- Dialect. ain't.
Origin of an't
Examples from the Web for ant
I was reducing everything to ant scale, the U.S. included—an ant White House, an ant CIA, an ant Congress, an ant Pentagon.
Strangely, he did this by diluting the sting of the ant scene.
You might think of ant larvae as just a stage in the development of an ant.Mexico City’s Magical Moment of Resurgence
Condé Nast Traveler
February 10, 2014
If the future reneges, people may decide that they might as well be a grasshopper, since the ant gets just as screwed.Our Demographic Decline
December 4, 2012
It was like force-feeding sugar to an ant: you just can't overdo it.Paul Begala on Why Bill Clinton’s Still Got the Magic
October 10, 2012
Lads of Zuñi took my egg and hatched it under a turkey hen, at the Ant Hill.The Trail Book
People have so much to say about an ant's strength, and an elephant's, and a locomotive's.Tom Sawyer Abroad
Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens)
Go to the ant, thou sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise.Self-Help
I have a man in my mind now who has exactly the head and face, if face it can be called, of an ant.Wilfrid Cumbermede
An ant or a bee only loves, so to speak, the whole assemblage of his companions.The Sexual Question
- any small social insect of the widely distributed hymenopterous family Formicidae, typically living in highly organized colonies of winged males, wingless sterile females (workers), and fertile females (queens), which are winged until after matingSee also army ant, fire ant, slave ant, wood ant Related adjective: formic
- white ant another name for a termite
- have ants in one's pants slang to be restless or impatient
- a variant of anti- antacid
- causing or performing an action or existing in a certain condition; the agent that performs an actionpleasant; claimant; deodorant; protestant; servant
Word Origin and History for ant
c.1500, from Middle English ampte (late 14c.), from Old English æmette "ant," from West Germanic *amaitjo (cf. Old High German ameiza, German Ameise) from a compound of bases *ai- "off, away" + *mai- "cut," from PIE *mai- "to cut" (cf. maim). Thus the insect's name is, etymologically, "the biter off."
As þycke as ameten crepeþ in an amete hulle [chronicle of Robert of Gloucester, 1297]
Emmet survived into 20c. as an alternative form. White ant "termite" is from 1729. To have ants in one's pants "be nervous and fidgety" is from 1934, made current by a popular song; antsy embodies the same notion.
agent or instrumental suffix, from Old French and French -ant, from Latin -antem, accusative of -ans, present participle suffix of many Latin verbs.
- Variant ofanti-