noun Botany.

a bristlelike appendage of a plant, especially on the glumes of grasses.
such appendages collectively, as those forming the beard of wheat, barley, etc.
any similar bristle.

Origin of awn

1250–1300; Middle English aw(u)n, agune, agene, probably < Scandinavian; compare Old Norse ǫgn, Old Danish aghn husk; replacing and cognate with Old English ægnan; cognate with Gothic ahana, Old High German agana (German Agen, Ahne), Dutch, Frisian agen; OL agna ear of grain, Czech osina awn; Greek ákaina thorn, bristle, ákhnē chaff (< a pre-Hellenic substratum language); < Indo-European *Haeḱ- sharp
Related formsawned, adjectiveawn·less, adjectiveun·awned, adjective Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for awn

Historical Examples of awn

British Dictionary definitions for awn



any of the bristles growing from the spikelets of certain grasses, including cereals
Derived Formsawned, adjectiveawnless, adjective

Word Origin for awn

Old English agen ear of grain; related to Old Norse ögn chaff, Gothic ahana, Old High German agana, Greek akōn javelin
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

Word Origin and History for awn

"bristly fibers on grain of plants," c.1300, from Old Norse ögn, from Proto-Germanic *agano (cf. Old English egenu, Old High German agana, German Ahne, Gothic ahana), from PIE *ak-ona- (cf. Sanskrit asani- "arrowhead," Greek akhne "husk of wheat," Latin acus "chaff," Lithuanian akuotas "beard, awn"); suffixed form of PIE root *ak- "sharp" (see acrid).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

awn in Science



A slender, bristlelike appendage found on the spikelets of many grasses.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.