Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. The letters of a language, arranged in the order fixed by custom.
  • n. A system of characters or symbols representing sounds or things.
  • n. A set of basic parts or elements: "genetic markers . . . that contain repeated sequences of the DNA alphabet” ( Sandra Blakeslee).

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. The set of letters used when writing in a language.
  • n. A writing system in which letters represent phonemes. (Contrast e.g. logography, a writing system in which each character represents a word, and syllabary, in which each character represents a syllable.)
  • n. A typically finite set of distinguishable symbols.
  • n. One particular letter used in writing a language.
  • v. To designate by the letters of the alphabet; to arrange alphabetically.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. The letters of a language arranged in the customary order; the series of letters or signs which form the elements of written language.
  • n. The simplest rudiments; elements.
  • transitive v. To designate by the letters of the alphabet; to arrange alphabetically.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To arrange in the order of an alphabet; mark by the letters of the alphabet.
  • n. The letters of a language arranged in the customary order; the series of letters or characters which form the elements of written language. See the articles on the different letters, A, B, C, etc.
  • n. Any series of characters intended to be used in writing instead of the usual letters, as the series of dashes, dots, etc., used in the transmission of telegraphic messages.
  • n. First elements; simplest rudiments: as, not to know the alphabet of a science.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. the elementary stages of any subject (usually plural)
  • n. a character set that includes letters and is used to write a language

Etymologies

Middle English alphabete, from Latin alphabētum, from Greek alphabētos : alpha, alpha; see alpha + bēta, beta; see beta.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Late Latin alphabētum, from Ancient Greek ἀλφάβητος (alphabētos), from the first two letters of the Greek alphabet, alpha (Α) and beta (Β), from Phoenician aleph 𐤀 ("ox") and beth 𐤁 ("house"), so called because they were pictograms of those objects. (Wiktionary)

Examples

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