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[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. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for ayah
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • They had been happy, ayah said, with the kind lady and her children.

    Jan and Her Job L. Allen Harker
  • ayah might not be exactly beautiful, but she was harmonious.

    Jan and Her Job L. Allen Harker
  • ayah and little Fay were in the nursery across the passage, where there was a fire.

    Jan and Her Job L. Allen Harker
  • Since the night of ayah's departure there had not been such a scene.

    Jan and Her Job L. Allen Harker
  • To the right you may observe an ayah spoiling some young Britons.

    From Edinburgh to India & Burmah William G. Burn Murdoch
  • I do not see why you should not say that you had been his ayah, and had saved his life, and brought him up.

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

  • I was saved by the fidelity of an ayah, who had been in the family for ten years.

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

    Phoebe, Junior Mrs [Margaret] Oliphant
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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