Pronunciation: (un; when stressed an),[key]indefinite article. the form of a before an initial vowel sound (an arch; an honor) and sometimes, esp. in British English, before an initial unstressed syllable beginning with a silent or weakly pronounced h: an historian.
Pronunciation: (än),[key] —n. the Sumerian god of heaven: the counterpart of the Akkadian Anu.
a prefix occurring before stems beginning with a vowel or h in loanwords from Greek, where it means “not,” “without,” “lacking” (anarchy; anecdote); used in the formation of compound words: anelectric.Also,before a consonant,a-.
var. of ad- before n: announce.
var. of ana- before a vowel: anion.
a suffix occurring originally in adjectives borrowed from Latin, formed from nouns denoting places (Roman; urban) or persons (Augustan), and now productively forming English adjectives by extension of the Latin pattern. Attached to geographic names, it denotes provenance or membership (American; Chicagoan; Tibetan), the latter sense now extended to membership in social classes, religious denominations, etc., in adjectives formed from various kinds of noun bases (Episcopalian; pedestrian; Puritan; Republican) and membership in zoological taxa (acanthocephalan; crustacean). Attached to personal names, it has the additional senses “contemporary with” (Elizabethan; Jacobean) or “proponent of ” (Hegelian; Freudian) the person specified by the noun base. The suffix -an, and its variant -ian, also occurs in a set of personal nouns, mainly loanwords from French, denoting one who engages in, practices, or works with the referent of the base noun (comedian; grammarian; historian; theologian); this usage is esp. productive with nouns ending in -ic (electrician; logician; technician). See -ian for relative distribution with that suffix. Cf. -enne, -ean, -arian, -ician.