Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • preposition In every; to each; per.
  • abbreviation acceleration
  • abbreviation are (measurement)
  • article Used before nouns and noun phrases that denote a single but unspecified person or thing.
  • article Used before terms that denote number, amount, quantity, or degree.
  • article Used before a proper name to denote a type or a member of a class.
  • article Used before a mass noun to indicate a single type or example.
  • article The same.
  • article Any.
  • auxiliary verb Have.
  • noun The first letter of the modern English alphabet.
  • noun Any of the speech sounds represented by the letter a.
  • noun The first in a series.
  • noun Something shaped like the letter A.
  • noun The best or highest in quality or rank.
  • noun The sixth tone in the scale of C major or the first tone in the relative minor scale.
  • noun A key or scale in which A is the tonic.
  • noun A written or printed note representing this tone.
  • noun A string, key, or pipe tuned to the pitch of this tone.
  • noun One of the four major blood groups in the ABO system. Individuals with this blood group have the A antigen on the surface of their red blood cells, and the anti-B antibody in their blood serum.
  • idiom (from A to Z) Completely; thoroughly.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • An unaccented inseparable prefix of verbs, and of nouns and adjectives thence derived, originally implying motion away, but in earlier English merely intensive, or, as in modern English, without assignable force, as in abide, abode, arise, awake, ago = agone, etc.
  • The first letter in the English alphabet, as also generally in the other alphabets which, like the English, come ultimately from the Phenician.
  • As a symbol, a denotes the first of an actual or possible series. Specifically
  • In music, the name of the sixth note of the natural diatonic scale of C, or the first note of the relative minor scale; the la of Italian, French, and Spanish musicians.
  • In the mnemonic words of logic, the universal affirmative proposition, as, all men are mortal.
  • In mathematics: In algebra, a, b, c, etc., the first letters of the alphabet, stand for known quantities, while x, y, z, the last letters, stand for unknown quantities; in geometry, A, B, C, etc., are used to name points, lines, and figures.
  • In abstract reasoning, suppositions, etc., A, B, C, etc., denote each a particular person or thing in relation to the others of a series or group.
  • In writing and printing, a, b, c, etc., are used instead of or in addition to the Arabic figures in marking paragraphs or other divisions, or in making references.
  • In naut. lang., A1, A2, etc., are symbols used in the Record of American and Foreign Shipping, and in Lloyd's Register of British and Foreign Shipping, to denote the relative rating of merchant vessels.
  • As an abbreviation, a stands, according to context, for acre, acting, adjective, answer, are (in the metric system), argent (in heraldry), anal (anal fin, in ichthyology), anechinoplacid (in echinoderms), etc.; in com., for approved, for accepted, and for Latin ad (commonly written @), “at” or “to”: as, 500 shares L. I. preferred @ 67½; 25 @ 30 cents per yard.
  • Attrib., having the form of the capital A, as a tent.
  • A prefix, in ado, originally at do, northern English infinitive, equivalent to English to do. See ado.
  • A prefix of Greek origin, called alpha privative, the same as English un-, meaning not, without, -less, used not only in words taken directly or through Latin from the Greek, as abyss, adamant, acatalectic, etc., but also as a naturalized English prefix in new formations, as achromatic, asexual, etc., especially in scientific terms, English or New Latin, as Apteryx, Asiphonata, etc.
  • An old (and modern provincial) corruption of have as an auxiliary verb, unaccented, and formerly also as a principal verb.
  • All.
  • The early form of ah, preserved, archaically, before a leader's or chieftain's name, as a war-cry (but now treated and pronounced as the indefinite article).
  • A prefix or an initial and generally inseparable particle. It is a relic of various Teutonic and classical particles, as follows:
  • A suffix, the nominative neuter plural ending of nouns and adjectives of the second and third declensions in Greek or Latin, some of which have been adopted in English without change of ending. ;
  • A suffix characteristic of feminine nouns and adjectives of Greek or Latin origin or semblance, many of which have been adopted in English without change. ; ; ; ;
  • A prefix, being a reduced form (in Middle English, etc.) of Latin ab-, as in abate (which see). In a few verbs this a- has taken a Latin semblance, as in abs-tain (treated as ab-stain), as-soil. See these words.
  • A prefix, being a reduced form (in Latin, and so in English, etc.) of the Latin prefix ad- before sc-, sp-, st-, and gn-, as in ascend, aspire, aspect, astringent, agnate, etc.
  • A quasi-prefix, a mere opening syllable, in avast, where a-, however, represents historically Dutch houd in the original Dutch expression houd vast = English hold fast.
  • A reduced form of of, now generally written o', as in man-o'-war, six o'clock, etc.
  • An apparent prefix, properly a preposition, the same as a, preposition
  • A prefix, being a reduced form of an- for en-, in some words now obsolete or spelled in semblance of the Latin, or restored, as in acloy, acumber, apair, etc., later accloy, accumber, modern encumber, impair, etc.
  • A prefix of Greek origin, occurring unfelt in English acolyte, adelphous, etc.
  • An unmeaning syllable, used in old ballads and songs to fill out a line.

Etymologies

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

[Middle English, from Old English an, in; see on.]

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

[Middle English, variant of an, an; see an.]

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

[Middle English, alteration of haven, to have; see have.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

Variant spelling of ah.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

Symbols

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Middle English (Northern dialect) aw, alteration of all.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Latin annus

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Middle English a, ha contraction of have, or haven

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

Abbreviation of atto-, from Danish and Norwegian atten ("eighteen").

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

Modification of capital letter A, from Latin A, from Ancient Greek letter Α (A).

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

Middle English, from Old English ān ("one, a, lone, sole"). The "n" was gradually lost before consonants in almost all dialects by the 15th century.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Middle English, contraction of of.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

Abbreviation

Examples

  • Not that it makes it any better, but I'm pretty sure the 'big a*& cake' is a riff on a chain a prominent rapper wore, with a medallion that had ' big a#$ chain'.

    Tell Me What You Want, What You Really Really Want

  • So, having argued for a second root for sit that was *es- (which they relate to Sanskrit a:s-, Avestan a:s-/a:h-, Hittite eš-, and Greek he:stai 'sits'), they then suggest a connection to Hurrian ašš- and Urartean aš-, which then suggests a connection to Proto-Uralic *ase- (there should be an acute accent over the s)

    languagehat.com: EYAS.

  • "Good gracious," said he, "she has the voice of a----" (words failed him, in his astonishment) "the voice of a-- a monster!"

    The French Immortals Series — Complete

  • The receiver consists of a closed box, K, in the interior of which there is a very intense source of light whose rays escape by passing through apertures, _a a'_, in the front part

    Scientific American Supplement, No. 508, September 26, 1885

  • Mr. Tennyson (though he, too, would, as far as his true love is concerned, not unwillingly 'be an earring,' 'a girdle, 'and 'a necklace,' p. 45) in the more serious and solemn exordium of his works ambitions a bolder metamorphosis -- he wishes to be -- _a river_!

    Early Reviews of English Poets

  • For this reason the tube, TT ', is provided with a notch opposite the piece _a m l_, and the two arms, _a_ and _m_, of the latter are shaped like a V, as may be seen in part in the plan in Fig. 2.

    Scientific American Supplement, No. 362, December 9, 1882

  • As an example of the use of the cross to denote a square, we have Figure 124, which represents a piece having a hexagon head, section _a_, _a'_, that is rectangular, a collar _b_, a square part _c_, and a round stem _d_.

    Mechanical Drawing Self-Taught

  • She went away right in the midst of a-- of a difference of opinion we were having; she didn't even let me know she was going, and never wrote a line to me, and then came back telling everybody she'd had 'a perfectly gorgeous time! '

    The Magnificent Ambersons; illustrated by Arthur William Brown

  • "Because pretty near all he had on was a towel an 'a-- a sort of a---- immodes' britch-cloth," explained Guy Little confidentially.

    Man to Man

  • She went away right in the midst of a-- of a difference of opinion we were having; she didn't even let me know she was going, and never wrote a line to me, and then came back telling everybody she'd had 'a perfectly gorgeous time! '

    The Magnificent Ambersons

Comments

Log in or sign up to get involved in the conversation. It's quick and easy.

  • "In the mnemonic words of logic, the universal affirmative proposition, as, all men are mortal. Similarly, I stands for the particular affirmative, as, some men are mortal; E for the universal negative, as, no men are mortal; O for the particular negative, as, some men are not mortal. The use of these symbols dates from the thirteenth century; they appear to be arbitrary applications of the vowels a, e, i, o, but are usually supposed to have been taken from the Latin AffIrmo, I affirm, and nEgO, I deny. But some authorities maintain that their use in Greek is much older."

    --CD&C

    February 14, 2013