Why is "ain't" a contraction? What's it a contraction of?

I’m not an “ain’t” hater. I often use the word myself.

What I do have a problem with is the fact that it’s spelled as a contraction. I refuse to do it! I just aint gonna write “aint” as a contraction.

Nope, aint gonna do it.

My understanding has always been that ain’t stems from a lazy and/or dialectical pronunciation of* isn’t*, which of course** is **a proper contraction.

Replace the* is with ai*,* n’t* continues to stand in for* not*, and Bob’s your uncle.


Earl’s first link proves me wrong on the etymology, but the* n’t is indeed properly contracted from not*, so I guess I ain’t totally stupid.

I am’t surprised to see origin.

Are not nobody got time for that?


Youse a Brummie?

I’d been told that it was originally a mispronunciation of aren’t. But wouldn’t the contraction of *am not *be amn’t?

Not if you’re Cockney.

Can I add my own question: in the UK using “ain’t”, especially over-using it, is traditionally considered a sign of being very low class. However I remember reading a novel set around the early 19th century (though most of the details escape me). In it “ain’t” or “a’n’t” seemed to be used by young aristocrats as part of a fashionable speech. In the past was it more widely used (on a social scale that is) in the UK?

Only in Ireland.

If anyone says that I amn’t divine
He’ll get no free drinks when I’m making the wine

“Am not” > “a’ not” > “ain’t.” I don’t see why it couldn’t be “am I not” > “a’ I n’t”. OED has a few suggestions. One is that if “isn’t” loses the -s-, then the i- lengthens to the pronunciation as in “night”, and goes to “ain’t” from there. Another is that it’s from and R-less “aren’t,” in other words a variant of British / US Southern “ahn’t” (as you said above). In short, no one knows.

Brits say “et” for past tense of “eat,” although I don’t know often, or by what social class. Reason: they’re Brits.

One might as well ask how “won’t” comes to be the contraction for “will not”.

One might be wont to ask.

plus bain’t — but I am not
and tain’t — it is not

Bain’t doin’ tha, tain’t werf it.

It is in parts of the West Midlands. It ain’t Down South. I’m not sure what Northern Hordes say…

Ain’t ain’t a word
And I ain’t gonna say it.