- any member of a class of words that can function as the main or only elements of subjects of verbs (A dog just barked), or of objects of verbs or prepositions (to send money from home), and that in English can take plural forms and possessive endings (Three of his buddies want to borrow John's laptop). Nouns are often described as referring to persons, places, things, states, or qualities, and the word noun is itself often used as an attributive modifier, as in noun compound; noun group.See also noun adjunct, noun clause, noun phrase.
Origin of noun
As we see from its dictionary definition, a noun can name not only a physical thing but also abstract things such as a state ( happiness ) or a quality ( beauty ). The word is defined further in terms of the way it functions in the language—as a subject or object in a sentence or as the object of a preposition. In any of those positions, it can be modified by an adjective or adjective phrase: a talented but quirky artist.
Nouns are typically said to fall into two categories: proper noun and common noun. A proper noun designates a particular person, place, or thing and is normally capitalized: Shakespeare, Mexico, the Pentagon. A common noun refers to a generic person, place, or thing: teacher, classroom, smartphone. The plural form of a common noun names a set or group. (Proper nouns are pluralized only in special circumstances: There are many Springfields in the United States. Oh, no, the Smiths are coming to dinner again. )
To form the plural, most common nouns simply add an -s ( teachers, classrooms, smartphones ). Some nouns ending in –o (but not all) add -es. Nouns ending in the sounds [ch] /tʃ/, [j] /dʒ/, [sh] /ʃ/, [zh] /ʒ/, [s] /s/, or [z] /z/ also have plurals ending in -es ( bus/buses, ash, ashes, judge/judges ). Several nouns form the plural in a different way. These include child/children, knife/knives, and a number of others. Some nouns have a plural form identical to that of the singular: sheep/sheep. Seven English nouns form their plural by changing the vowel in the middle of the word: woman/women, man/men, goose/geese, tooth/teeth, foot/feet, louse/lice. (Can you think of the seventh one?*) And then, of course, there are nouns borrowed from other languages that keep their non-English plurals ( bacterium/bacteria, chapeau/chapeaux, kibbutz/kibbutzim ).
But not all nouns can be pluralized. Thus we have another way to categorize nouns. Those that can be thought of in the plural are called count nouns; the things they name can be counted and enumerated. Other nouns, called mass nouns or noncount nouns, name things that are usually not counted, even when the amount grows larger. This class includes nouns that refer to a substance ( water, sand, oxygen, electricity ), a quality ( kindness, honesty ), or an abstract concept ( happiness, health ). There are exceptions: some substances can be spoken of in the plural if you are referring to various kinds ( The wines of France are known throughout the world ) or to units or containers of the substance ( We’ll have three coffees and two teas ).
Certain other nouns that name something relatively concrete, like furniture, flatware, hardware, and software, are also treated as mass nouns. This means that in English we do not say “This computer comes with the latest softwares.” Nor do we say “I’m buying a furniture” (although we can buy a couch or a table ), since mass nouns normally cannot be immediately preceded by “a,” “an,” or a numeral. Instead, we use the singular form even when referring to large quantities, saying things like “a lot of software” or “too much furniture.” This distinction between count nouns and mass nouns, complex though it may seem, is pretty much absorbed automatically if you grow up speaking English. But it can be one of the most difficult things to assimilate for people learning English as a foreign language. The answer? Read, read, read. And listen.
Related Words for nounnoun
Examples from the Web for noun
Contemporary Examples of noun
The noun “mechanicals” refers to any physical reproduction of a composed and performed work—that is, “canned music.”Van Dyke Parks on How Songwriters Are Getting Screwed in the Digital Age
Van Dyke Parks
June 4, 2014
When I shut off the radio, the last word I hear must be a noun—not a verb, or adjective, or preposition.A.J. Jacobs: How I Write
May 29, 2013
Star Trek (noun) Science-fiction franchise launched on television in 1966.
Vulcan (noun) Alien humanoids who live by logic and reason and suppress emotion.
The word is a verb being used as a noun to describe $85 billion in defense and domestic discretionary cuts to the federal budget.Yes, Sequestration Is Actually Bad
April 8, 2013
Historical Examples of noun
Between the "wondering" and the noun there had been an observable pause.Ester Ried Yet Speaking
The transitive verb has no subject; the noun nothing to govern it.
Third, the ablative form of a noun signifying a portion of the body.
A restrictive clause is not separated by a comma from the noun.
The form of the adverb, as well as of the adjective and the noun, is ill.
- a word or group of words that refers to a person, place, or thing or any syntactically similar word
- (as modifier)a noun phrase
Word Origin for noun
Word Origin and History for noun
late 14c., from Anglo-French noun "name, noun," from Old French nom, non (Modern French nom), from Latin nomen "name, noun" (see name (n.)). Old English used name to mean "noun." Related: Nounal.