noun, plural A's or As, a's or as.
Origin of a1
The names of the consonant letters f, h, l, m, n, r, s, and x are pronounced with a beginning vowel sound. When these letters are used as words or to form words, they are preceded by an : to rent an L-shaped studio; to fly an SST. The names of the vowel letter u and the semivowel letters w and y are pronounced with a beginning consonant sound. When used as words, they are preceded by a : a U-turn; The plumber installed a Y in the line.
In some words beginning with the letter h, the h is not pronounced; the words actually begin with a vowel sound: an hour; an honor. When the h is strongly pronounced, as in a stressed syllable at the beginning of a word, it is preceded by a : a history of the Sioux; a hero sandwich. (In former times an was used before strongly pronounced h in a stressed first syllable: an hundred. ) Such adjectives as historic, historical, heroic, and habitual, which begin with an unstressed syllable and often with a silent or weakly pronounced h, are commonly preceded by an, especially in British English. But the use of a rather than an is widespread in both speech and writing: a historical novel; a habitual criminal. Hotel and unique are occasionally preceded by an, but this use is increasingly old-fashioned. Although in some dialects an has yielded to a in all cases, edited writing reflects usage as described above.
Origin of a2
Origin of a3
auxiliary verb Pronunciation Spelling.
Origin of a4
pronoun British Dialect.
Origin of a5
- the sixth tone in the scale of C major or the first tone in the relative minor scale, A minor.
- a string, key, or pipe tuned to this tone.
- a written or printed note representing this tone.
- (in the fixed system of solmization) the sixth tone of the scale of C major, called la.
- the tonality having A as the tonic note.
Origin of a-1
Origin of a-2
Origin of a-3
Origin of a-4
Origin of a-5
Origin of a.1
Origin of a.2
Origin of A.1
Origin of A.2
Origin of -a3
Origin of -a4
- (of an animal) having the highest rank in a dominance hierarchy: the alpha female of an elephant pack.
- being the most dominant, powerful, or assertive person in a particular group.
Origin of alpha
noun plural a's, A's or As
determiner (indefinite article; used before an initial consonant)
- a note having a frequency of 440 hertz (A above middle C) or this value multiplied or divided by any power of 2; the sixth note of the scale of C major
- a key, string, or pipe producing this note
- the major or minor key having this note as its tonic
- a film certified for viewing by anyone, but which contains material that some parents may not wish their children to see
- (as modifier)an A film
- a person whose job is in top management, or who holds a senior administrative or professional position
- (as modifier)an A worker See also occupation groupings
Word Origin for A
before a vowel an-
Word Origin for a-
- involving or relating to helium-4 nucleian alpha particle
- relating to one of two or more allotropes or crystal structures of a solidalpha iron
- relating to one of two or more isomeric forms of a chemical compound, esp one in which a group is attached to the carbon atom to which the principal group is attached
Word Origin for alpha
aa or aw
indefinite article, mid-12c., a variation of Old English an (see an) in which the -n- began to disappear before consonants, a process mostly complete by mid-14c. The -n- also was retained before words beginning with a sounded -h- until c.1600; it still is retained by many writers before unaccented syllables in h- or (e)u-, but is now no longer normally spoken as such. The -n- also lingered (especially in southern England dialect) before -w- and -y- through 15c.
as in twice a day, etc., from Old English an "on," in this case "on each." The sense was extended from time to measure, price, place, etc. The habit of tacking a onto a gerund (as in a-hunting we will go) died out 18c.
prefix meaning "not," from Greek a-, an- "not," from PIE root *ne "not" (see un-).
c.1300, from Latin alpha, from Greek alpha, from Hebrew or Phoenician aleph (see aleph). The Greeks added -a because Greek words cannot end in most consonants. Sense of "beginning of anything" is from late 14c., often paired with omega (last letter in the Greek alphabet) as "the end." Sense of "first in a sequence" is from 1620s. Alpha male was in use by c.1960 among scientists studying animals; applied to humans in society from c.1992.
in native (derived from Old English) words, it most commonly represents Old English an "on" (see a (2)), as in alive, asleep, abroad, afoot, etc., forming adjectives and adverbs from nouns; but it also can be Middle English of, as in anew, abreast (1590s); or a reduced form of Old English past participle prefix ge-, as in aware; or the Old English intensive a-, as in arise, awake, ashame, marking a verb as momentary, a single event. In words from Romanic languages, often it represents Latin ad- "to, at."
[I]t naturally happened that all these a- prefixes were at length confusedly lumped together in idea, and the resultant a- looked upon as vaguely intensive, rhetorical, euphonic, or even archaic, and wholly otiose. [OED]
prefix meaning "not," from Latin a-, short for ab "away from" (e.g. avert), or its cognate, Greek a-, short for apo "away from, from," both cognate with Sanskrit apa "away from," Gothic af, Old English of (see apo-).