• synonyms

N, n

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noun, plural N's or Ns, n's or ns.
  1. the 14th letter of the English alphabet, a consonant.
  2. any spoken sound represented by the letter N or n, as in now, dinner, son, etc.
  3. something having the shape of an N.
  4. a written or printed representation of the letter N or n.
  5. a device, as a printer's type, for reproducing the letter N or n.
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  1. Physics. neutron.
  2. Optics. index of refraction.
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  1. Physics. newton; newtons.
  2. north.
  3. northern.
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  1. the 14th in order or in a series, or, when I is omitted, the 13th.
  2. (sometimes lowercase) the medieval Roman numeral for 90.Compare Roman numerals.
  3. Chemistry. nitrogen.
  4. Biochemistry. asparagine.
  5. Mathematics. an indefinite, constant whole number, especially the degree of a quantic or an equation, or the order of a curve.
  6. Chess. knight.
  7. Printing. en.
  8. Chemistry. Avogadro's number.
  9. neutron number.
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[uh n; when stressed an]
  1. Pronunciation Spelling. and.
  2. Archaic. if.
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Also an', 'n, 'n'.

Origin of an2

1125–75; Middle English, unstressed phonetic variant of and


  1. an abbreviated form of normal, used in the names of hydrocarbon compounds that have a normal or straight chain of carbon atoms: n-3 fatty acid.
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  1. born.
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Origin of n.1

From the Latin word nātus


  1. name.
  2. nephew.
  3. Commerce. net.
  4. neuter.
  5. new.
  6. nominative.
  7. noon.
  8. Chemistry. normal (strength solution).
  9. north.
  10. northern.
  11. Finance. note.
  12. noun.
  13. number.
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or 'n'

[uh n]
conjunction Pronunciation Spelling.
  1. and: Stop 'n save. Look 'n listen.
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  1. Nationalist.
  2. Navy.
  3. New.
  4. Noon.
  5. Chemistry. normal (strength solution).
  6. Norse.
  7. north.
  8. northern.
  9. Finance. note.
  10. November.
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  1. variant of -an after a vowel: Virginian.
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Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words


Examples from the Web for n

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • Now, I want you should listen 'cause I'm going to tell you jes' how it is n' then you'll understand.

    Pee-wee Harris

    Percy Keese Fitzhugh

  • D--n the rogues; I thought at one time they had me in a category!

    Homeward Bound

    James Fenimore Cooper

  • If it had n' been for me, she would n' have had any sohn 't all.

    The Dominant Strain

    Anna Chapin Ray

  • They were having har' times to get on, an' Arlt here could n' begin to carry the load.

    The Dominant Strain

    Anna Chapin Ray

  • "D——n you," croaked McGuire feebly, falling back in his chair.

    The Vagrant Duke

    George Gibbs

British Dictionary definitions for n



noun plural n's, N's or Ns
  1. the 14th letter and 11th consonant of the modern English alphabet
  2. a speech sound represented by this letter, usually an alveolar nasal, as in nail
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symbol for
  1. neutron
  2. optics index of refraction
  3. nano-
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  1. an indefinite number (of)there are n objects in a box
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symbol for
  1. Also: kt chess knight
  2. neper
  3. neutral
  4. newton(s)
  5. chem nitrogen
  6. North
  7. Avogadro's number
  8. noun
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abbreviation for
  1. Norway (international car registration)
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  1. myth the Sumerian sky godBabylonian counterpart: Anu
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the chemical symbol for
  1. actinon
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abbreviation for
  1. Anglo-Norman
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  1. chem short for normal (def. 6)
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abbreviation for
  1. natus
  2. neuter
  3. new
  4. nominative
  5. noun
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Word Origin

(for sense 1) Latin: born


  1. a form of the indefinite article used before an initial vowel soundan old car; an elf; an honour
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Word Origin

Old English ān one


An was formerly often used before words that begin with h and are unstressed on the first syllable: an hotel; an historic meeting . Sometimes the initial h was not pronounced. This usage is now becoming obsolete



  1. (subordinating) an obsolete or dialect word for if See and (def. 9)
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the internet domain name for
  1. Netherlands Antilles
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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 n


in nickname, newt, and British dialectal naunt, the -n- belongs to a preceding indefinite article an or possessive pronoun mine.

Other examples of this from Middle English manuscripts include a neilond ("an island," early 13c.), a narawe ("an arrow," c.1400), a nox ("an ox," c.1400), a noke ("an oak," early 15c.), a nappyle ("an apple," early 15c.), a negge ("an egg," 15c.). In 16c., an idiot sometimes became a nidiot, which, with still-common casual pronunciation, became nidget, which, alas, has not survived.

The process also worked in surnames, from oblique cases of Old English at "by, near," e.g. Nock/Nokes/Noaks from atten Oke "by the oak;" Nye from atten ye "near the lowland;" and cf. Nashville.

But it is more common for an English word to lose an -n- to a preceding a: apron, auger, adder, umpire, humble pie, etc. The mathematical use of n for "an indefinite number" is first recorded 1852, in to the nth power.

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indefinite article before words beginning with vowels, 12c., from Old English an (with a long vowel) "one; lone," also used as a prefix an- "single, lone;" see one for the divergence of that word from this. Also see a, of which this is the older, fuller form.

In other European languages, identity between indefinite article and the word for "one" remains explicit (e.g. French un, German ein, etc.) Old English got by without indefinite articles: He was a good man in Old English was he wæs god man. Circa 15c., a and an commonly were written as one word with the following noun, which contributed to the confusion over how such words as newt and umpire ought to be divided (see N).

In Shakespeare, etc., an sometimes is a contraction of as if (a usage first attested c.1300), especially before it.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

n in Medicine


  1. refractive index
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The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.

n in Science


  1. Abbreviation of newton
  2. The symbol for nitrogen.
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  1. A nonmetallic element that makes up about 78 percent of the atmosphere by volume, occurring as a colorless, odorless gas. It is a component of all proteins, making it essential for life, and it is also found in various minerals. Nitrogen is used to make ammonia, nitric acid, TNT, and fertilizers. Atomic number 7; atomic weight 14.0067; melting point -209.86°C; boiling point -195.8°C; valence 3, 5. See Periodic Table. See Note at oxygen.
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The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.