[ al-fuh-bet, -bit ]
See synonyms for alphabet on
  1. the letters of a language in their customary order.

  2. any system of characters or signs with which a language is written: the Greek alphabet.

  1. any system of characters or signs used to represent the sounds of a language: the phonetic alphabet.

  2. first elements; basic facts; simplest rudiments: the alphabet of genetics.

  3. the alphabet, a system of writing, developed in the ancient Middle 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 alphabetic scripts are derived.

Origin of alphabet

First recorded in 1375–1425; late Middle English alphabete from Late Latin alphabētum, alteration of Greek alphábētos; see alpha, beta

Other words from alphabet

  • pre·al·pha·bet, adjective, noun

Words Nearby alphabet Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use alphabet in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for alphabet


/ (ˈælfəˌbɛt) /

  1. 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

  2. any set of symbols or characters, esp one representing sounds of speech

  1. basic principles or rudiments, as of a subject

Origin of alphabet

C15: from Late Latin alphabētum, from Greek alphabētos, from the first two letters of the Greek alphabet; see alpha, beta

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