The Alternative English Dictionary: a

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Entry definition

etymology 1 From Middle English and Old English lower case letter a and split of Middle English and Old English lower case letter æ.
  • Old English lower case letter a from 7th century replacement by Latin lower case letter a of the Anglo-Saxon Futhorc letter scRunr, derived from Runic letter scRunr.
  • Old English lower case letter æ from 7th century replacement by Latin lower case ligature æ of the Anglo-Saxon Futhorc letter scRunr, also derived from Runic letter scRunr.
Alternative forms: (Gregg Shorthand) · dot pronunciation
  • (letter name)
    • (UK) /eɪ/
    • {{audio}}
    • (AusE) /æɪ/
    • {{rhymes}}
    The current pronunciation resulted from the . Before the early part of the 17th century, the pronunciation was similar to that in other languages.
  • (phoneme) /æ/, /ɑː/, /eɪ/, ...
letter: {{en-letter}}
  1. The first letter of the English alphabet, called a and written in the Latin script.
In English, the letter a usually denotes the (/æ/), as in pad, the (/ɑː/) as in father, or, followed by another vowel, the diphthong /eɪ/, as in ace. a is the third-most common letter in English.
cardinal number: {{en-number}}
  1. The ordinal number first, derived from this letter of the English alphabet, called a and written in the Latin script.
noun: {{en-noun}}Gove, Philip Babcock, (1976)
  1. The name of the Latin script letter A/a.
etymology 2 Middle English, from Old English ān. The "n" was gradually lost before consonants in almost all dialects by the 15th century. pronunciation
  • (stressed) /eɪ/
  • (unstressed) /ə/
  • {{audio}}
  • {{audio}}
article: {{head}}
  1. One; any indefinite example of; used to denote a singular item of a group. {{defdate}} exampleThere was a man here looking for you yesterday.
    • {{RQ:Schuster Hepaticae V}} With fresh material, taxonomic conclusions are leavened by recognition that the material examined reflects the site it occupied; a herbarium packet gives one only a small fraction of the data desirable for sound conclusions. Herbarium material does not, indeed, allow one to extrapolate safely: what you see is what you get…
    • 2005, Emily Kingsley (lyricist), Kevin Clash (voice actor), “A Cookie is a Sometime Food”, Sesame Street, season 36, Sesame Workshop: Hoots the Owl: Yes a, fruit, is a {{SIC}}, any, time, food!
  2. Used in conjunction with the adjectives score, dozen, hundred, thousand, and million, as a function word. exampleI've seen it happen a hundred times.
  3. One certain or particular; any single. {{defdate}}Brown, Lesley, (2003) exampleWe've received an interesting letter from a Mrs. Miggins of London.
  4. The same; one. {{defdate}} exampleWe are of a mind on matters of morals.
  5. Any, every; used before a noun which has become modified to limit its scope; also used with a negative to indicate not a single one.Lindberg, Christine A. (2007) exampleA man who dies intestate leaves his children troubles and difficulties. exampleHe fell all that way, and hasn't a bump on his head?
  6. Used before plural nouns modified by few, good many, couple, great many, etc.
  7. Someone or something like; similar to; Used before a proper noun to create an example out of it. exampleThe center of the village was becoming a Times Square.
  • The article an is used before vowel sounds, and a before consonant sounds.
etymology 3
  • From Middle English a, o, from Old English a-, an, on.
  • Unstressed form of on.
  • /ə/
preposition: {{en-prep}}
  1. (archaic) To do with position or direction; In, on, at, by, towards, onto. {{defdate}} exampleStand a tiptoe.
  2. To do with separation; In, into. {{defdate}} exampleTorn a pieces.
  3. To do with time; Each, per, in, on, by. {{defdate}} exampleI brush my teeth twice a day.
    • 1601, Shakespeare, , IV-v A Sundays
  4. (obsolete) To do with method; In, with. {{defdate}}
    • Marlowe, C. Stands here a purpose.
  5. (obsolete) To do with role or capacity; In. {{defdate}} exampleA God’s name. A God’s name.〉
  6. To do with status; In. {{defdate}}
    • Bible (II Chronicles 2:18) To set the people a worke.
  7. (archaic) To do with process, with a passive verb; In the course of, experiencing. {{defdate}}
    • 1964, Bob Dylan, The Times They Are a-Changin’ The times, they are a-changin'.
  8. (archaic) To do with an action, an active verb; Engaged in. {{defdate}}
    • {{rfdate}} Shakespeare It was a doing.
    • 1611, , Hebrews 11-21 Jacob, when he was a dying
  9. (archaic) To do with an action/movement; To, into. {{defdate}}
  • (position, direction) Can also be attached without a hyphen, as aback, ahorse, afoot. See a-
  1. (separation) Can also be attached without hyphen, as asunder. See a-
  2. (status) Can also be attached without hyphen, as afloat, awake. See a-.
  3. (process) Can also be attached with or without hyphen, as a-changing
etymology 4 From Middle English a, ha contraction of have, or haven. Alternative forms: 'a, 'a', ha, ha' pronunciation
  • /ə/
verb: {{en-verb}}
  1. {{senseid}} (archaic or slang) Have. {{defdate}} exampleI'd a come, if you'd a asked.
    • 1604 (facsimile printed between 1830 and 1910), , : So would I a done by yonder ſunne And thou hadſt not come to my bed.
  • Now often attached to preceding auxiliary verb. See -a.
etymology 5
  • (he) From Middle English a, ha, unstressed variant of he, from Old English .
  • (she) From Middle English a, ha, unstressed variant of heo, hie, hi, from Old English hēo, hīo, feminine of .
  • (they) From Middle English a, ha, unstressed variant of hie, hi, from Old English hīe, plural of he.
  • (it) From Middle English a, ha, unstressed variant of he, heo, from Old English hit.
  • (I) From Middle English variant of the word I.
Alternative forms: 'a pronunciation
  • (PR) /ə/
  • (it) (PR) /ə/, /ɑ/
pronoun: {{en-pron}}
  1. (obsolete, outside, England and Scotland dialects) He. {{defdate}}
    • 1599, Shakespeare, Much Ado About Nothing, III-ii: a’ brushes his hat o’ mornings.
    • 1874 Thomas Hardy, Far from the Madding Crowd (Barnes & Noble Classics reprint [reset], 2005, chapter 5, page 117; from "Hardy's 1912 Wessex edition"): "And how Farmer James would cuss, and call thee a fool, wouldn't he, Joseph, when 'a seed his name looking so inside-out-like?" continued Matthew Moon, with feeling. / "Ay — 'a would," said Joseph meekly.
etymology 6 Variant spelling of ah. pronunciation
  • /ə/, /ɑː/
interjection: {{en-interj}}
  1. A meaningless syllable; ah.
    • {{rfdate}} Shakespeare, The Winter’s Tale, IV-iii: A merry heart goes all the day Your sad tires in a mile-a
    • {{rfdate}} Avery, I Love to Singa: I love to sing-a About the moon-a and the June-a and the Spring-a.
etymology 7 From Middle English, contraction of of. pronunciation
  • (US) /ə/
preposition: {{head}}
  1. (archaic, slang) Of. exampleThe name of John a Gaunt.
    • a. 1597, Shakespeare, , I-ii What time a day is it?
    • 1598, , It’s six a clock.
    • (created) - 2009 (revived) - 2011 (viral video) - (film version), Cups (When I'm Gone) Two bottles 'a whiskey for the way[ YouTube video with lyrics]
  • Often attached without a hyphen to preceding word.
etymology 8 From Middle English (Northern dialect) aw, alteration of all. pronunciation
  • (RP) /ɔ/
Alternative forms: a'
adverb: {{en-adv}}
  1. (chiefly, Scotland) All. {{defdate}}
adjective: {{en-adj}}
  1. (chiefly, Scotland) All. {{defdate}}
etymology 9 Symbols
symbol: {{head}}
  1. Distance from leading edge to aerodynamic center.
  2. specific absorption coefficient
  3. specific rotation
  4. allele (recessive)
  • {{rank}}

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