- the letters of a language in their customary order.
- any system of characters or signs with which a language is written: the Greek alphabet.
- any such system for representing the sounds of a language: the phonetic alphabet.
- first elements; basic facts; simplest rudiments: the alphabet of genetics.
- the alphabet, a system of writing, developed in the ancient Near East and transmitted from the northwest Semites to the Greeks, in which each symbol ideally represents one sound unit in the spoken language, and from which most alphabetical scripts are derived.
Origin of alphabet
Examples from the Web for alphabet
“It sometimes seems like we have more contingency plans than there are letters in the alphabet,” he claims.Lost Ocean Rover Leaves Gap in Biology and Alzheimer's Research
June 9, 2014
Best Moment: "I heard your last name was even longer but you ate all the other letters of the alphabet."Justin Bieber, Jon Hamm & the Best of 'Between Two Ferns' (VIDEO)
September 26, 2013
To the left was West Pakistan, where they ruled, and spoke Urdu, and wrote in an alphabet that flowed like water under wind.Bangladesh’s Midnight Children: Philip Hensher’s ‘Scenes From Early Life’
January 9, 2013
He falls in love with a girl named Zoe, who “seemed to come from that foreign end of the alphabet.”The New Wallace Stegner: Ivan Doig’s ‘The Bartender’s Tale’
August 22, 2012
When Sendak made an alphabet book, he called it Alligators All Around.Maurice Sendak Knew Enough to Put the Bite Back in Children’s Stories
May 8, 2012
Of Greek I can decipher perhaps the greater part of the Greek alphabet.A Treatise on Parents and Children
George Bernard Shaw
He used to boast that he had a lawsuit for every letter in the alphabet.Tales And Novels, Volume 4 (of 10)
She continues through the alphabet to L, when the table responds.Echoes of the War
J. M. Barrie
Especially in this America, where the alphabet is spread broadcast, and free of charge.The Book of Khalid
In verity he knew it as glibly as the alphabet, for he was infinitely painstaking.Dreamers of the Ghetto
- a set of letters or other signs used in a writing system, usually arranged in a fixed order, each letter or sign being used to represent one or sometimes more than one phoneme in the language being transcribed
- any set of symbols or characters, esp one representing sounds of speech
- basic principles or rudiments, as of a subject
Word Origin and History for alphabet
1570s, from Late Latin alphabetum (Tertullian), from Greek alphabetos, from alpha + beta. Alphabet soup first attested 1907. Words for it in Old English included stæfræw, literally "row of letters," stæfrof "array of letters."
It was a wise though a lazy cleric whom Luther mentions in his "Table Talk,"--the monk who, instead of reciting his breviary, used to run over the alphabet and then say, "O my God, take this alphabet, and put it together how you will." [William S. Walsh, "Handy-Book of Literary Curiosities," 1892]