Definitions

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

  • noun The first letter of the Greek alphabet.
  • noun The first of a series; the beginning.
  • noun Astronomy The brightest star in a constellation.
  • noun The mathematical estimate of the return on a security when the return on the market as a whole is zero. Alpha is derived from a in the formula Ri = a + bRm, which measures the return on a security (Ri) for a given return on the market (Rm) where b is beta.
  • noun The return on an investment portfolio that can be attributed to the skill of the portfolio's manager rather than the performance of the market.
  • adjective Being the highest ranked or most dominant individual of one's sex. Used of social animals.
  • adjective Being in the first position relative to a designated carbon atom in an organic molecule at which an atom or a group may be substituted.
  • adjective Referring to the first of a group of isomers, or molecules of similar origin or properties, determined arbitrarily by those who discover or classify them. Used in combination.
  • adjective Alphabetical.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun [capitalized] The name given by Carl Neumann, the mathematical physicist, to a supposed body to which all motion, especially motion of rotation, is relative.
  • noun The first letter in the Greek alphabet (A, α), answering to A.
  • noun The first; the beginning: as in the phrase “alpha and omega,” the beginning and the end, the first and the last, omega being the last letter of the Greek alphabet.
  • noun As a classifier: In astronomy, the chief star of a constellation. In chem., the first of two or more isomerous modifications of the same organic compound, as alpha-naphthol, in distinction from beta-naphthol.
  • noun In natural history, the first subspecies, etc.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • noun The first letter in the Greek alphabet, answering to A, and hence used to denote the beginning.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun The name of the first letter of the Greek alphabet (Α,  α), followed by beta. In the Latin alphabet it is the predecessor to A.
  • noun Latin alpha
  • noun sciences The name of the symbols Α and α used in science and mathematics, often interchangeable with the symbols when used as a prefix.
  • noun finance The return of a given asset or portfolio adjusted for systematic risk.
  • noun An alpha male.
  • noun informal, abbreviation Alphabet.
  • adjective Designates the first in an order of precedence.
  • adjective associated with the alpha male/female archetype.
  • adjective astronomy Designates the brightest star in a constellation.

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

  • adjective first in order of importance
  • noun the beginning of a series or sequence
  • adjective early testing stage of a software or hardware product
  • noun the 1st letter of the Greek alphabet

Etymologies

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

[Greek, of Phoenician origin; see ℵlp in Semitic roots.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From the Ancient Greek ἄλφα (alpha), the first letter of the Greek alphabet, from the Phoenician aleph.

Examples

Comments

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  • Derived from the Phoenician letter Aleph, the Greek alpha was the first in their alphabet. Alpha is usually used to mean 'first'. In Phoenician, alpha meant 'ox'. (uppercase Α, lowercase α)

    June 23, 2008

  • first, Our LORD is the Alpha and Omega.

    March 7, 2011

  • Yep, I love me fatty acids.

    March 8, 2011