Definition of nunation in US English:


(also nunnation)


  • 1Semitic Grammar. Now usually in form nunation. The addition of a final n-sound to the pronunciation of the indefinite forms of certain nouns and adjectives in Arabic; (also) the appending of n to the flectional vowels of other Semitic languages.

  • 2Usually in form nunnation. In extended use: the addition of a final n to an inflection in another language, e.g. Middle English. Also (frequently attributive, especially in "nunnation mark"): the insertion of a nasal consonant after a vowel.


Late 18th century; earliest use found in John Richardson (?1741–1795), orientalist. From Arabic nūn, name of the Arabic letter corresponding to Roman n + -ation, after Arabic tanwīn, noun of action from nawwana to add a final n -sound to. Compare French nunnation, nounation.