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 Greek Alpha, of the same form; and this was made from the first
letter (/) of the Phoenician 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 a sound, the Phoenician 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.
An adjective, commonly called the indefinite article, and signifying one or any, but less emphatically.
In each; to or for each; as, "twenty leagues a day", "a hundred pounds a year", "a dollar a yard", etc.
In; on; at; by.
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.
A barbarous corruption of have, of he, and sometimes of it and of they.
An expletive, void of sense, to fill up the meter
A, as a prefix to English words, is derived from
various sources. (1) It frequently signifies on or in (from an, a forms
of AS. on), denoting a state, as in afoot, on foot, abed, amiss, asleep,
aground, aloft, away (AS. onweg), and analogically, ablaze, atremble,
etc. (2) AS. of off, from, as in adown (AS. ofd/ne off the dun or hill).
(3) AS. a- (Goth. us-, ur-, Ger. er-), usually giving an intensive
force, and sometimes the sense of away, on, back, as in arise, abide,
ago. (4) Old English y- or i- (corrupted from the AS. inseparable
particle ge-, cognate with OHG. ga-, gi-, Goth. ga-), which, as a
prefix, made no essential addition to the meaning, as in aware. (5)
French a (L. ad to), as in abase, achieve. (6) L. a, ab, abs, from, as
in avert. (7) Greek insep. prefix / without, or privative, not, as in
abyss, atheist; akin to E. un-.