Via Latin from Greek nanos 'dwarf'.
Placing nano- before a word indicates that the thing referred to is submicroscopically small; technically, it refers to a factor of a thousandth of a million (10−9). A nanosecond is one thousand millionth of a second, while nanotechnology deals with the manipulation of individual atoms and molecules. Nano- comes from the Greek word nanos, meaning ‘dwarf’. It was adopted in English as early as 1947, although nano- words only entered most people's consciousness in the 1990s, when technology using very small components had been developed. By 2005 the concept was familiar enough for the Apple computer company to call its new slim-line iPod music player the iPod Nano.
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