\ ˈī How to pronounce ai (audio) , ˈä-ˌē, ä-ˈē \
plural ais

Definition of ai

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: three-toed sloth A sloth is a slow-moving arboreal (tree-dwelling) mammal and the name ai was given to this creature because of its high-pitched screech.— Al Perkins Three-toed sloth is a common crossword puzzle clue for the word "ai."— Marty Noble

Definition of AI (Entry 2 of 2)

1 ad interim
2 airborne intercept
3 air interception
4 artificial insemination
5 artificial intelligence

First Known Use of ai


1625, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for ai


borrowed from Portuguese "sloth (the animal)," borrowed from Tupi aɨ́

Note: The Tupi form is based on that given by Aryon Rodrigues in "Contribuição para a etimologia dos brasileirismos," Revista Portuguesa de Filologia, vol. 9, I-II (1958-59), p. 14. The word can be found with various spellings in a number of early sources: André Thevet, Les singularitez de la France Antarctique, 1558 (Haü, Haüthi); Jean de Léry, Histoire d'un voyage faict en la terre du Bresil, 1578 (Hay); letter of José de Anchieta, 1560, in Serafim Leite, editor, Cartas dos primeiros Jesuítas do Brasil, vol. 3 [1958], p. 222, cited in Antônio Geraldo da Cunha, Dicionário histórico das palavras portuguesas de origem tupi, São Paulo, 1978 ("Est aliud animal quod Indi aig, nos propter nimiam tarditatem pigritiam dicimus" — "There is another animal that the Indians call aig, that we call on account of its excessive slowness the sloth"); Gabriel Soares de Sousa, Tratado descritivo do Brasil, 1587 (ahy).

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about ai

Statistics for ai

Cite this Entry

“Ai.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 3 Aug. 2020.

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for ai

Medical Definition of AI

artificial insemination

More from Merriam-Webster on ai

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with ai

Nglish: Translation of ai for Spanish Speakers

Comments on ai

What made you want to look up ai? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


Test Your Vocabulary

July 2020 Words of the Day Quiz

  • papercraft sunset
  • Which is a synonym of mien?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Bee Cubed

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!