1. A member of a group of Central Asian nomadic pastoralist peoples who invaded Europe in the fourth and fifth centuries AD and were defeated in 455.
2. often hun A barbarous or destructive person.
3. Offensive Slang Used as a disparaging term for a German, especially a German soldier in World War I.
[From Late Latin Hunnī, the Huns, of Central Asian origin; akin to Sogdian xwn, Sanskrit hūṇaḥ, and Middle Chinese xuawŋ-nɔ (source of Mandarin Xiōngnú), a member of various Central Asian peoples or multiethnic confederations that conquered and raided the Eurasian steppes in late antiquity, probably from their self-designation .]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2019 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.