A type of aid to navigation, a buoy with a conical top, resembling the wimples once worn by some orders of nuns.

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Nuns are cheaper than full-blown lighted buoys, and in the United States, they are used to mark the starboard side of the channel when entering a small harbor (which becomes the port side when leaving). In these cases a nun buoy is painted red, and has an even number on it. When there is a preferred channel, green-and-red striped nuns with a red stripe at the top will mark the port side, entering.

Nuns are also frequently used to mark underwater obstructions, moorings, and anchorages, or the ends of measured distance lines.

In ancient Egyptian mythology Nun is the personification of the primeval waters from which everything else arose. Additionally, the sun emerges each day from Nun, renewed and regenerated. Due to the Egyptian reverence for the Sun (Re) as the primary diety, Nun is known as the father of the gods.

Also had female counterpart, Nuanet. With her they formed the first generation of the family group of eight gods, known as the Ogdoad of Hermopolis.

When depicted in human form, Nun was sometimes shown with a frog's head. Due to his status as creation god, the annual flooding of the Nile was associated closely with Nun/Nuanet.

Nun (?), n. [OE. nunne, AS. nunne, fr. L. nonna nun, nonnus monk; cf. Gr. , ; of unknown origin. Cf. Nunnery.]


A woman devoted to a religious life, who lives in a convent, under the three vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience.

They holy time is quiet as a nun Breathless with adoration. Wordsworth.

2. Zool. (a)

A white variety of domestic pigeons having a veil of feathers covering the head.


The smew.


The European blue titmouse.

Gray nuns R. C. Ch., the members of a religious order established in Montreal in 1745, whence branches were introduced into the United States in 1853; -- so called from the color or their robe, and known in religion as Sisters of Charity of Montreal. -- Nun buoy. See under Buoy.


© Webster 1913.

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