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P, p

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noun, plural P's or Ps, p's or ps.
  1. the sixteenth letter of the English alphabet, a consonant.
  2. any spoken sound represented by the letter P or p, as in pet, supper, top, etc.
  3. something having the shape of a P.
  4. a written or printed representation of the letter P or p.
  5. a device, as a printer's type, for reproducing the letter P or p.


  1. Music. softly.

Origin of p1

From the Italian word piano


  1. penny; pence.


  1. Education. (as a rating of student performance) passing.
  2. Chess. pawn.
  3. Electronics. plate.
  4. poor.
  5. Grammar. predicate.
  6. Protestant.


  1. the 16th in order or in a series, or, when I is omitted, the 15th.
  2. (sometimes lowercase) the medieval Roman numeral for 400.Compare Roman numerals.
  3. Genetics. parental.
  4. Chemistry. phosphorus.
  5. Physics.
    1. power.
    2. pressure.
    3. proton.
    4. space inversion.
    5. poise2.
  6. Biochemistry. proline.


  1. Chemistry. para-1(def 2).


  1. Military. (in designations of fighter aircraft) pursuit: P-38.


  1. father.

Origin of p.1

From the Latin word pater


  1. Music. softly.

Origin of p.2

From the Italian word piano


  1. after.

Origin of p.3

From the Latin word post


  1. page.
  2. part.
  3. participle.
  4. past.
  5. Chess. pawn.
  6. penny; pence.
  7. per.
  8. Grammar. person.
  9. peseta.
  10. peso.
  11. pint.
  12. pipe.
  13. Baseball. pitcher.
  14. pole.
  15. population.
  16. president.
  17. pressure.
  18. purl.


  1. father.

Origin of P.1

From the Latin word Pater


  1. pastor.
  2. peseta.
  3. peso.
  4. post.
  5. president.
  6. pressure.
  7. priest.
  8. prince.
  9. progressive.


  1. Paul (Jo·hann von) [poul yoh-hahn fuh n] /paʊl ˈyoʊ hɑn fən/, 1830–1914, German playwright, novelist, poet, and short-story writer: Nobel Prize 1910.


noun, plural rhos.
  1. the 17th letter of the Greek alphabet (P, ρ).
  2. the consonant sound represented by this letter.

Origin of rho

1350–1400; Middle English < Greek rhô
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for p

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • Stop for us at the Laurels, about eleven, or p'r'aps I'll stroll over and get you.

    The Spenders

    Harry Leon Wilson

  • We'll land that stake; an' p'raps the sharp division'll take a tumble.


    W. A. Fraser

  • I tell you p'intedly you cyarnt nevah b'lieve what you heahs.

    The Little Colonel

    Annie Fellows Johnston

  • He can't marry Miss P——, nor yet her fortune, nor ever shall!

  • All this you was on the p'int of losin' through bein' slow on your feet.

British Dictionary definitions for p



noun plural p's, P's or Ps
  1. the 16th letter and 12th consonant of the modern English alphabet
  2. a speech sound represented by this letter, usually a voiceless bilabial stop, as in pig
  3. mind one's p's and q's to be careful to behave correctly and use polite or suitable language


symbol for
  1. (in Britain) penny or pence
  2. music piano: an instruction to play quietly
  3. pico-
  4. physics
    1. momentum
    2. proton
    3. pressure


symbol for
  1. chem phosphorus
  2. physics
    1. pressure
    2. power
    3. parity
    4. poise
  3. (on road signs) parking
  4. chess pawn
  5. currency
    1. (the former) peseta
    2. peso
    3. pataca
    4. pula
abbreviation for
  1. Portugal (international car registration)
  2. pharmacy only: used to label medicines that can be obtained without a prescription, but only at a shop at which there is a pharmacist


  1. short for para- 1 (def. 6)


abbreviation for
  1. plural pp page
  2. part
  3. participle
  4. past
  5. per
  6. post
  7. pro

Word Origin

(sense 6) Latin: after (sense 7) Latin: in favour of; for


noun plural rhos
  1. the 17th letter in the Greek alphabet (Ρ, ρ), a consonant transliterated as r or rh
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for p


a rare letter in the initial position in Germanic, in part because by Grimm's Law PIE p- became Germanic f-; even with the early Latin borrowings in Old English, -p- takes up a little over 4 pages in J.R. Clark Hall's "Concise Anglo-Saxon Dictionary," compared to 31 pages for B and more than 36 for F. But it now is the third-most-common initial letter in the English vocabulary, and with C and S comprises nearly a third of the dictionary, a testimony to the flood of words that have entered the language since 1066 from Latin, Greek, and French.

To mind one's Ps and Qs (1779), possibly is from confusion of these letters among children learning to write. Another theory traces it to old-time tavern-keepers tracking their patrons' bar tabs in pints and quarts. But cf. also to be P and Q (1610s), "to be excellent," a slang phrase said to derive from prime quality.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

p in Medicine


  1. The symbol for the elementphosphorus


  1. para-


  1. The 17th letter of the Greek alphabet.

p in Science


  1. The symbol for parity.
  2. The symbol for phosphorus.
  3. The symbol for power.
  4. The symbol for pressure.


  1. A highly reactive, poisonous nonmetallic element occurring naturally in phosphates, especially in the mineral apatite. It exists in white (or sometimes yellow), red, and black forms, and is an essential component of protoplasm. Phosphorus is used to make matches, fireworks, and fertilizers and to protect metal surfaces from corrosion. Atomic number 15; atomic weight 30.9738; melting point (white) 44.1°C; boiling point 280°C; specific gravity (white) 1.82; valence 3, 5. See Periodic Table.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

Idioms and Phrases with p


The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.

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