: am not : are not : is not
: have not : has not
Is ain't a word?: Usage Guide

Although widely disapproved as nonstandard, and more common in the habitual speech of the less educated, ain't is flourishing in American English. It is used in both speech and writing to catch attention and to gain emphasis.

the wackiness of movies, once so deliciously amusing, ain't funny anymore Richard Schickel
I am telling you—there ain't going to be any blackmail R. M. Nixon

It is used especially in journalistic prose as part of a consistently informal style.

the creative process ain't easy Mike Royko

This informal ain't is commonly distinguished from habitual ain't by its frequent occurrence in fixed constructions and phrases.

well—class it ain't Cleveland Amory
for money? say it ain't so, Jimmy! Andy Rooney
you ain't seen nothing yet
that ain't hay
two out of three ain't bad
if it ain't broke, don't fix it

In fiction ain't is used for purposes of characterization; in familiar correspondence it tends to be the mark of a warm personal friendship. It has also long been commonly used in popular songs, both for metrical reasons and for the informal tone it conveys.

Ain't She Sweet
It Ain't Necessarily So

Our evidence shows British use to be much the same as American.

Examples of ain't in a Sentence

It's a free country, ain't it? Those people ain't got a clue. Her husband left and she ain't never been the same.

Word History


contraction of are not

First Known Use

1749, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of ain't was in 1749

Dictionary Entries Near ain't

Cite this Entry

“Ain't.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 15 Jun. 2024.

Kids Definition


: are not
: is not
: am not
: have not
: has not
used by many educated speakers and writers in certain set phrases (as "two out of three ain't bad" or "and that ain't hay") and to catch attention but more common in less educated speech

More from Merriam-Webster on ain't

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