Webster 1913 Edition
(named ā in the English, and most commonly ä in other languages).
The first letter of the English and of many other alphabets. The capital A of the alphabets of Middle and Western Europe, as also the small letter (a), besides the forms in Italic, black letter, etc., are all descended from the old Latin A, which was borrowed from the GreekThis letter, in English, is used for several different vowel sounds. See Guide to pronunciation, §§ 43-74. The regular long a, as in fate, etc., is a comparatively modern sound, and has taken the place of what, till about the early part of the 17th century, was a sound of the quality of ä (as in far ).
Alpha, of the same form; and this was made from the first letter ([GREEK]) of the Phœnician alphabet, the equivalent of the Hebrew Aleph, and itself from the Egyptian origin. The Aleph was a consonant letter, with a guttural breath sound that was not an element of Greek articulation; and the Greeks took it to represent their vowel Alpha with the ä sound, the Phœnician alphabet having no vowel symbols.
The name of the sixth tone in the model major scale (that in C), or the first tone of the minor scale, which is named after it the scale in A minor. The second string of the violin is tuned to the A in the treble staff. – A sharp (A♯) is the name of a musical tone intermediate between A and B. – A flat (A♭) is the name of a tone intermediate between A and G.
A per se
per seby itself)
one preëminent; a nonesuch.
O fair Creseide, the flower and
Of Troy and Greece.
A per se
Of Troy and Greece.
(ȧ emph. ā).
[Shortened form of
an. AS. ān one. See
An adjective, commonly called the indefinite article, and signifying one or any, but less emphatically.“At a birth”; “In a word”; “At a blow”.
It is placed before nouns of the singular number denoting an individual object, or a quality individualized, before collective nouns, and also before plural nouns when the adjective few or the phrase great many or good many is interposed;
as,It is used for an, for the sake of euphony, before words beginning with a consonant sound [for exception of certain words beginning with h, see
agreat many days.
as, a table,Formally an was used both before vowels and consonants.
[Originally the preposition
In each; to or for each;
as, “twenty leagues
aday”, “a hundred pounds
ayear”, “a dollar
[Abbreviated form of
In; on; at; by.
[Obs.]“A God’s name.” “Torn a pieces.” “Stand a tiptoe.” “A Sundays”
Shak.“Wit that men have now a days.”
Chaucer.“Set them a work.”
Robynson (More's Utopia).
In process of; in the act of; into; to; – used with verbal substantives in -ing which begin with a consonant. This is a shortened form of the preposition an (which was used before the vowel sound); as in a hunting, a building, a begging.“Jacob, when he was a dying”
Heb. xi. 21.“We'll a birding together.” “ It was a doing.”
Shak.“He burst out a laughing.”
The hyphen may be used to connect a with the verbal substantive (as, a-hunting, a-building) or the words may be written separately. This form of expression is now for the most part obsolete, the a being omitted and the verbal substantive treated as a participle.
ofoff, from. See
[Obs.]“The name of John a Gaunt.” “What time a day is it ?”
Shak.“It's six a clock.”
A barbarous corruption of have, of he, and sometimes of it and of they.“So would I a done” “A brushes his hat.”
An expletive, void of sense, to fill up the meter
A merry heart goes all the day,
Your sad tires in a mile-
Your sad tires in a mile-
Webster 1828 Edition
Ais the first letter of the Alphabet in most of the known languages of the earth; in the Ethiopic, however it is the thirteenth, and in the Runic the tenth. It is naturally the first letter, because it represents the first vocal sound naturally formed by the human organs; being the sound uttered with a mere opening of the mouth without constraint, and without any effort to alter the natural position or configuration of the lips. The A has been proven to be the first natural vocal sound, and entitled to the first place in alphabets.
Ahas in English, three sounds; the long or slender, as in place, fate; the broad, as in wall, fall, which is shortened in salt, what; and the open, as in father, glass, which is shortened in rather, fancy. Its primitive sound was probably aw. A is also an abbreviation used before words beginning with an articulation; as a table, instead of an table, or one table. This is a modern change.
This letter serves as a prefix to many English words, as in asleep; awake; afoot; aground; agoing. In some cases, this is a contraction of Teutonic ge, as in asleep, aware, from the Saxon geslapan, to sleep, to beware. Sometimes it is a corruption of the Saxon on, as again from ongean , awake from onwacian to watch or wake. Before participles, it may be a contraction of the Celtic ag, the sign of the participle of the present tense; as, ag-radh, saying; a saying, a going. Or this may be a contraction of on, or what is equally probable, it may have proceeded from a mere accidental sound produced by negligent utterance. In some words, a may be a contraction of at, of, in, to, or an. In some words of Greek original, a is privative, giving to them a negative sense, as in anonymous.
Among the ancients, A was a numeral denoting 500, and with a dash A 5000. In the Julian Calendar, A is the first of the seven dominical letters.
Among logicians, A, as an abbreviation, stands for a universal affirmative proposition. A asserts; E denies. Thus in barbara, a thrice repeated denotes so many of the propositions to be universal.
The Romans used A to signify a negative or dissent in giving their votes; A standing for antiquo, I oppose or object to the proposed law. Opposed to this letter were U R, uti rogas, be it as you desire - the words used to express assent to a proposition. These letters were marked on wooden ballots, and each voter had an affirmative and a negative put into his hands, one of which at pleasure he gave as his vote, - In criminal trials, A stood for absolvo, I acquit, C for condemno, I condemn; and N L for non liquet, it is not evident; and the judges voted by ballots this marked. In inscriptions, A stands for Augustus; or for ager, aiunt, , aurum, argentum, &c.
Ais also used for anno, or ante; as in Anno Domini, the year of our Lord; anno mundi, the year of the world; ante meridiem, before noon, and for arts, in artium magister, master of arts.
In algebra, a and first letters of the alphabet represent known quantities - the last letters are sometimes used to represent unknown quantities.
music, A is the nominal of the sixth note in the natural diatonic scale - called by Guido la. It is also the name of one of the two natural moods; and it is the open note of the 2d string of the violin, by which the other strings are tuned and regulated.
In pharmacy, a or aa, abbreviations of the Greek ana, signify of each separately, or that the things mentioned should be taken in quantities of the same weight or measure.
In chimistry, A A A stand for amalgama, or amalgamation.
In commerce, A stands for accepted, as in case of a bill of exchange. Merchants also number their books by the letters - A,B,C, instead of figures. Public officers number their exhibits in the same manner; as the document A, or B.
Alpha and Omega, the first and last letters of the Greek Alphabet, are used in Scripture for the beginning and end - representative of Christ.
In mathematics, letters are used as representatives of numbers, lines, angles and quantities. In arguments, letters are substituted for persons, in cases supposed, or stated for illustration, as A contracts with B to deliver property to D. - In the English phraseology "a landlord as a hundred a year," " the sum amounted to ten dollars a man," a is merely the adjective one, and this mode of expression is idiomatic; a hundred in a year; ten dollars to a man.