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/ əˈlɪst /
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adjective Nautical.(of a vessel)
inclined to one side; heeling or listing.
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Origin of alist

Other definitions for alist (2 of 2)

A list

a group of desirable or admired people who are welcomed especially in social and professional situations: Hollywood's A list turned out for the Oscars.
Also A-list . pertaining to or being in an A list; prominent.

Origin of A list

First recorded in 1930–35
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, Š Random House, Inc. 2023


What does alist mean?

Alist means leaning or tilted to the side. It is used to describe ships.

Alist is a rare nautical term. It is formed from the verb list, which can mean to tilt or lean. So a ship that is listing (leaning) can be described as alist.

Example: The ship is alist, sailor—secure the cargo!

Where does alist come from?

Alist is formed by combining the verb list and the prefix a-, which has many different meanings in English. In this case, it is attached to a verb to create an adjective (or adverb). It serves this purpose in words like ablaze (“blazing,” or “on fire”) and aglow (“glowing”). (As you can see, it’s a lot like adding -ing to the word!)

Modern ships have many safeguards against becoming alist, but, just like when they were made out of wood, they can tilt if they take on water or if their cargo is unbalanced. Obviously, a ship that’s alist is potentially in danger. If it tilts too badly, it could overturn, or capsize.

Alist is primarily applied to ships, but it can be used to describe other things, too. The Leaning Tower of Pisa could be said to be alist, for example. In any case, alist is rare and you won’t even find it in many dictionaries. But keep it on your list in case you ever need to speak like an old-timey sea captain.

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What are some other forms of alist?

What are some synonyms for alist?

What are some words that share a root or word element with alist?


What are some words that often get used in discussing alist?

How is alist used in real life?

Alist is a very rare word that’s almost exclusively used in nautical contexts, but it is sometimes used in other ways. Harper Lee used alist in her novel To Kill a Mockingbird to describe a dog leaning over due to being sick:

We could see him shiver like a horse shedding flies; his jaw opened and shut; he was alist, but he was being pulled gradually toward us.

Try using alist!

Which of the following sentences correctly uses alist?

A. That ship’s straight lines are so beautifully alist.
B. Our ship was so badly alist that we were in danger of falling off the side.
C. When my cat sleeps, she sits straight up and is completely alist.

How to use alist in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for alist

A list

  1. the most socially desirable category
  2. (as modifier)an A-list event
Compare B list
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition Š William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 Š HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012