A Dictionary of the English Language
                        A Digital Edition of the 1755 Classic by Samuel Johnson
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View Scan · View Transcription · from page 127

View Scan · View Transcription · from page 127

An. article. [an, Saxon. een, Dutch, eine, German.] The article indefinite, used before a vowel, or h mute. See A.

  1. One, but with less emphasis; as, there stands a house.

    Since he cannot be always employed in study, reading, and conversation, there will be many an hour, besides what his exercises will take up. Locke.

  2. Any, or some; as, an elephant might swim in this water.

    He was no way at an uncertainty, nor ever in the least at a loss concerning any branch of it. Locke on St. Paul's Epistles.

    A wit's a feather, and a chief a rod,
    An honest man's the noblest work of God.

  3. Sometimes it signifies, like a, some particular state; but this is now disused.

    It is certain, that odours do, in a small degree, nourish; especially the odour of wine; and we see men an hungred do love to smell hot bread. Bacon's Natural History.

  4. An is sometimes, in old authors, a contraction of and if.

            He can't flatter, he!
    An honest mind and plain, he must speak truth;
    An they will take it so; if not, he's plain.
    Shakesp. K. Lear.

  5. Sometimes a contraction of and before if.

                          Well I know
    The clerk will ne'er wear hair on's face that had it.
    ——— He will an' if he live to be a man.
    Shakesp. Merchant of Venice.

  6. Sometimes it is a contraction of as if.

    My next pretty correspondent, like Shakespeare's lion in Pyramus and Thisbe, roars an' it were any nightingale. Addison. Guardian, № 121.

Sources: Addison, Joseph (408) · Bacon, Francis (396) · Shakespeare's King Lear (144) · Locke, John (269) · Shakespeare's Merchant of Venice (83) · Pope, Alexander (393)

Attributes: Article (2) · Dutch (90) · German (30) · Saxon (215)

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Cite this page: Johnson, Samuel. "An." A Dictionary of the English Language: A Digital Edition of the 1755 Classic by Samuel Johnson. Edited by Brandi Besalke. Last modified: January 31, 2014. https://johnsonsdictionaryonline.com/an/.

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