General English


  • noun a building where alcoholic drinks are served, and which also has accommodation for visitors who wish to stay the night


  • acronym forinternational nonproprietary name
    (written as INN)

Origin & History of “inn”

An inn was originally literally a place one lived or stayed ‘in’. It comes from a prehistoric Germanic *innam, which was a derivative of the ancestor of the modern English adverb in, and in Old English it meant simply ‘house where one lives, abode, home’. This sense survived into the 17th century (‘Queen Mary gave this House to Nicholas Heth, Archbishop of York, and his successors for ever, to be their Inne or Lodging for their repair to London’, James Howell, Londinopolis 1657), and a memory of it remains in London’s Inns of court, which originated as lodgings for lawyers. The later sense ‘public house, tavern’ developed towards the end of the 14th century.