aunt

[ant, ahnt]
noun
1.
the sister of one's father or mother.
2.
the wife of one's uncle.
3.
Chiefly New England and South Midland U.S. (used as a term of respectful address to an older woman who is not related to the speaker).
4.
Slang. an aging male homosexual.

Origin:
1250–1300; Middle English aunte < Anglo-French, for Old French ante < Latin amita father's sister, old feminine past participle of amāre to love, i.e., beloved

auntlike, adjective

ant, aunt.


The usual vowel of aunt in the United States is the [a] of rant except in New England and eastern Virginia, where it is commonly the “New England broad a, ” a vowel similar to French [a] and having a quality between the [a] of hat and the [ah] of car. The vowel [ah] itself is also used. In New England and eastern Virginia [ah] or the [a] -like sound occur in aunt in the speech of all social groups, even where a “broad a ” is not used in words like dance and laugh. Elsewhere, the “broader” a is chiefly an educated pronunciation, fostered by the schools with only partial success (“Your relative isn't an insect, is she?”), and is sometimes regarded as an affectation. Aunt with the vowel of paint is chiefly South Midland United States and is limited to folk speech.
The [a] pronunciation of aunt was brought to America before British English developed the [ah] in such words as aunt, dance, and laugh. In American English, [ah] is most common in the areas that maintained the closest cultural ties with England after the [ah] pronunciation developed there in these words.
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World English Dictionary
aunt (ɑːnt)
 
n
1.  a sister of one's father or mother
2.  the wife of one's uncle
3.  a term of address used by children for any woman, esp for a friend of the parents
4.  my aunt!, my sainted aunt! an exclamation of surprise or amazement
 
[C13: from Old French ante, from Latin amita a father's sister]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
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Etymonline
Word Origin & History

aunt
c.1300, from Anglo-Fr. aunte, from O.Fr. ante (Mod.Fr. tante, from a 13c. variant), from L. amita "paternal aunt" dim. of *amma a baby-talk or non-I.E. word for "mother" (cf. Gk. amma "mother," O.N. amma "grandmother," M.Ir. ammait "old hag," Heb. em, Arabic umm "mother"). Extended senses include "an
old woman, a gossip" (1580s); "a procuress" (1670s); and "any benevolent woman," in Amer.Eng., where auntie was recorded since c.1790 as "a term often used in accosting elderly women."
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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