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90s Slang You Should Know


[ah-yuh] /ˈɑ yə/
(in India) a native maid or nurse.
Origin of ayah
1775-85; < Hindi āyā < Portuguese aia maidservant < Latin avia grandmother, equivalent to av(us) grandfather + -ia feminine suffix Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for ayah
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Historical Examples
  • Her remark had followed the ayah's explanation of her appearance with the child.

    Banked Fires E. W. (Ethel Winifred) Savi
  • ayah and little Fay were in the nursery across the passage, where there was a fire.

    Jan and Her Job L. Allen Harker
  • And the ayah, who could hold no Christian communication with anybody around her, was worse than useless to her poor mistress.

    Madonna Mary Mrs. Oliphant
  • As I have told you, she was his ayah, and has behaved most nobly.

  • The ayah was dead, and I who tell this tale was alone with a corpse in the encircling atmosphere!

  • In that case, the ayah, the housemaid is of more consequence than you.

    Phoebe, Junior Mrs [Margaret] Oliphant
  • When Colonel Darling returned from parade the ayah was gone from the passage-way outside his wife's room.

    The Tigress Anne Warner
  • Her ayah and Rosie were soon resplendent in her gift of new sarees.

  • The ayah had been taken ill in the night, and it was because she had just died that the servants had wailed in the huts.

    The Secret Garden Frances Hodgson Burnett
British Dictionary definitions for ayah


(in the East, Africa, and other parts of the former British Empire) a maidservant, nursemaid, or governess, esp one of Indian or Malay origin Compare amah
Word Origin
C18: from Hindi āyā, from Portuguese aia, from Latin avia grandmother
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for ayah

"native nurse, children's governess," Anglo-Indian, 1782, from Portuguese aia, cognate with Spanish aya, Italian aja, etc., "nurse," from Latin avia "grandmother," fem. of avus "grandfather" (see uncle).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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