1. a combining form with the meaning “very small, minute,” used in the formation of compound words (nanoplankton); in the names of units of measure it has the specific sense “one billionth” (10-9): nanomole; nanosecond.

combining form

  1. denoting 10 –9nanosecond Symbol: n
  2. indicating extreme smallnessnanoplankton

introduced 1947 (at 14th conference of the Union Internationale de Chimie) as a prefix for units of one thousand-millionth part, from Greek nanos “a dwarf.” According to Watkins, this is originally “little old man,” from nannos “uncle,” masc. of nanna “aunt” (see nana). Earlier it was used as a prefix to mean “dwarf, dwarfish,” and still in a non-scientific sense of “very small.” pref.

  1. Extremely small:nanoid.
  2. One-billionth (10-9):nanometer.

  1. A prefix that means:
  2. Very small or at a microscopic level, as in nanotube. In this sense, this prefix is sometimes spelled nanno-, as in nannoplankton.
  3. One billionth, as in nanosecond, one billionth of a second.
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