: any of a genus (Crotophaga) of black cuckoos of the warmer parts of America

Word History

Etymology

borrowed from New Latin, perhaps erroneously for Tupi *anúʔí (whence Brazilian Portuguese anuí "smooth-billed ani"), from anú "ani" + ʔí "small"

Note: As with other Brazilian animal names, this word originates with Georg Marcgrave and Willem Piso's Historia naturalis Brasiliae (Leiden and Amsterdam, 1648): "Ani Brasiliensibus; Avis Turdellae magnitudine, totaliter nigra, pennis, rostro, oculis, pedibus" ("Ani by the [native] Brazilians; a bird the size of a thrush, completely black—feathers, beak, eyes, feet") (p. 193). The corresponding Tupi word is anú (phonetically both vowels would be nasalized)—whence Portuguese anu, anum, described already by Gabriel Soares de Sousa in 1587 (see Antônio Geraldo da Cunha, Dicionário histórico das palavras portuguesas de origem tupi, São Paulo, 1978). It is not clear how Marcgrave arrived at a final i.

First Known Use

1773, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of ani was in 1773

Dictionary Entries Near ani

Cite this Entry

“Ani.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/ani. Accessed 7 Dec. 2022.

Medical Definition

More from Merriam-Webster on ani

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