Definitions for a, a

This page provides all possible meanings and translations of the word a, a

Random House Webster's College Dictionary

A, a(n.)(pl.)A's; As, a's; as.

  1. the first letter of the English alphabet, a vowel.

    Category: Language/Linguistics

  2. any spoken sound represented by this letter.

    Category: Language/Linguistics

  3. something shaped like anA.

  4. a written or printed representation of the letter A or


Idioms for A, a:

  1. from A to Z, from beginning to end; completely; thoroughly:

    He knows the Bible from A to Z.

    Category: Idiom

a*ə; when stressed eɪ(indefinite article.)

  1. (used before a singular noun not referring to any specific member of a class or group or referring to a member not previously mentioned):

    We need a new car. I spoke to a doctor.

    Category: Function Word

  2. any; every:

    A dog has four legs.

  3. one:

    a hundred years; a dozen eggs; a yard of fabric.

    Category: Function Word

  4. (used indefinitely with certain quantifiers):

    a great many years; a few stars.

    Category: Function Word

  5. the same:

    two at a time.

  6. a single portion, unit, type, or instance of:

    two coffees and a tea.

  7. a certain; a particular:

    A Mr. Johnson called.

    Category: Function Word

  8. another; one resembling:

    a Cicero in eloquence.

    Category: Function Word

  9. a work by:

    a Van Gogh.

  10. any; a single:

    not a one.

    Category: Function Word

* Usage: In both spoken and written English a is used before words beginning with a consonant sound (a book), an before words beginning with a vowel sound (an apple). Words that start with vowel letters but are pronounced with the consonant sound (y) or (w) are preceded by a: a union; a European; a one-room apartment. The names of the consonant letters f, h, l, m, n, r, s, and x begin with a vowel sound and thus are preceded by an: an F in geometry; to fly an SST. The names of all other consonants and of the vowel u take a: a B in Spanish; a U-turn. Words that begin with the letter h sometimes cause confusion. When the h is not pronounced, the word is preceded by an: an hour. When h is pronounced, the word is preceded by a: a history of the Sioux; a hero sandwich. (Formerly, an was used before pronounced h:an hundred.) Usage is divided, however, with such words as historian, historical, heroic, and habitual, which begin with an unstressed syllable in which h may be weak or silent. The use of a is widespread in both speech and writing (a historian of ancient China; a habitual criminal), but an is also common. Hotel and unique are occasionally preceded by an, but this use is regarded as old-fashioned.

Origin of a:

ME; orig. preconsonantal phonetic var. of an1

a*ə; when stressed eɪ(prep.)

  1. for or in each; for or in every; per:

    ten cents a ride; three times a day.

    Category: Usage Note

* Usage: See per.

Origin of a:

orig. ME a, preconsonantal var. of on (see a -1); confused with a1


  1. Pron. Spelling. of (often written as part of a single word, without a hyphen):

    the time a day; kinda; sorta.

Origin of a:


aə(auxiliary verb.)

  1. Pron. Spelling. have (often written as part of a single, unhyphenated word):

    We shoulda gone.

    Category: Function Word

Origin of a:



  1. ampere.

    Category: Electricity and Magnetism

  2. angstrom.

    Category: Physics

  3. answer.


  1. the first in order or in a series.

  2. (sometimes l.c.) (in some grading systems) a grade or mark indicating excellence or superiority.

    Category: Education

  3. the sixth tone of the ascending C major scale. the tonality having A as the tonic.

    Category: Music and Dance

  4. a major blood group.

    Category: Physiology

    Ref: Compare ABO system.

  5. adenine.

    Category: Biochemistry

  6. alanine.

  7. (formerly) argon.

    Category: Chemistry

  8. mass number.

    Category: Physics

* Symbol..


  1. are (unit of measurement).

    Category: Weights and Measures


  1. atomic (used in combination):

    A-bomb; A-plant.

    Category: Affix


  1. a reduced form of the Old English preposition on, meaning “on,”“in,”“into,”“to,”“toward,” preserved before a noun or adjective in a prepositional phrase, forming a predicate adjective or an adverbial element (afar; afoot; aloud; ashore; away). By analogy with original nominal collocations, a-1 has been joined to verbs, the resulting formation having the force of a present participle (ablaze; astride; awash).

    Category: Affix

Origin of a-:

ME, late OE; cf. a2, nowadays


  1. a reduced form of the Old English preposition

    of: akin; afresh.

    Category: Affix


  1. a verbal prefix with the historical sense “out, up,” occurring in verbs and verb derivatives inherited from Old and Middle English, usu. marking the inception or completion of the action denoted by the base verb:

    abide; accursed; arise; ashamed; awake.

    Category: Affix

Origin of a-:



  1. var. of ab - before b, m, and

    v: amanuensis; avert.

    Category: Affix

Origin of a-:

ME < L ā-, a-


  1. var. of ad- , used before sc, sp, st (ascend) and in words of French derivation, often with the sense of increase or addition (amass).

    Category: Affix

Origin of a-:

ME, in some words < MF a- < L ad- prefix or ad prep. (see ad -), as in abut ; in others < L a- (var. of ad-ad -), as in ascend


  1. var. of an-1 before a consonant:

    amoral; atonal; achromatic.

    Category: Affix


  1. a plural ending of nouns borrowed from Greek and Latin:

    phenomena; criteria; data.

    Category: Affix


  1. a feminine singular ending of nouns borrowed from Latin and Greek, also used in New Latin coinages to Latinize bases of any origin, and as a Latin substitute for the feminine ending -ē of Greek words:

    cinchona; pachysandra.

    Category: Common Vocabulary, Affix


  1. a suffix occurring in the names of oxides of the chemical element denoted by the stem:

    alumina; thoria.

    Category: Common Vocabulary, Affix

Origin of -a:

prob. <-a of magnesia


  1. Absolute.

  2. Academy.

  3. acre.

    Category: Weights and Measures

  4. America.

  5. American.

  6. year.

  7. before.

  8. April.

Origin of A.:

< L annō, abl. of annus]; [< L ante


  1. about.

  2. acre.

  3. active.

  4. adjective.

    Category: Grammar

  5. alto.

    Category: Music and Dance

  6. ampere.

    Category: Electricity and Magnetism

  7. year.

  8. anonymous.

  9. answer.

  10. before.

  11. are (unit of measurement).

    Category: Weights and Measures

  12. Baseball. assist; assists.

    Category: Sport

Origin of a.:

< L annō]; [< L ante

Kernerman English Learner's Dictionary

  1. A, a(noun)ɪ

    the first letter of the alphabet

Translations for a, a

Kernerman English Multilingual Dictionary


one of the notes in the musical scale.

Get even more translations for a, a »


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