a
I. noun (plural a's or as) Usage: often capitalized, often attributive Date: before 12th century 1. a. the 1st letter of the English alphabet b. a graphic representation of this letter c. a speech counterpart of orthographic a 2. the sixth tone of a C-major scale 3. a graphic device for reproducing the letter a 4. one designated a especially as the first in order or class 5. a. a grade rating a student's work as superior in quality b. one graded or rated with an A 6. something shaped like the letter A 7. capitalized the one of the four ABO blood groups characterized by the presence of antigens designated by the letter A and by the presence of antibodies against the antigens present in the B blood group II. indefinite article Etymology: Middle English, from Old English ān one — more at one Date: before 12th century 1. — used as a function word before singular nouns when the referent is unspecified <
a man overboard
>
and before number collectives and some numbers <
a dozen
>
2. the same <
birds of a feather
>
<
swords all of a length
>
3. a. — used as a function word before a singular noun followed by a restrictive modifier <
a man who was here yesterday
>
b. any <
a man who is sick can't work
>
c. — used as a function word before a mass noun to denote a particular type or instance <
a bronze made in ancient times
>
d. — used as a function word before a proper noun representing an example or type <
the attractions of a Boston or a Cleveland
>
e. — used as a function word before a proper noun to indicate limited knowledge about the referent <
a Mr. Smith called to inquire about the job
>
f. — used as a function word before a proper noun to distinguish the condition of the referent from a usual, former, or hypothetical condition <
a triumphant Ms. Jones greeted her supporters
>
4. — used as a function word with nouns to form adverbial phrases of quantity, amount, or degree <
felt a bit tired
>
Usage: In speech and writing a is used before a consonant sound <
a door
>
<
a human
>
. Before a vowel sound an is usual <
an icicle
>
<
an honor
>
but especially in speech a is used occasionally, more often in some dialects than in others <
a apple
>
<
a hour
>
<
a obligation
>
. Before a consonant sound represented by a vowel letter a is usual <
a one
>
<
a union
>
but an also occurs though less frequently now than formerly <
an unique
>
<
such an one
>
. Before unstressed or weakly stressed syllables with initial h both a and an are used in writing <
a historic
>
<
an historic
>
. In the King James Version of the Old Testament and occasionally in writing and speech an is used before h in a stressed syllable <
an huntress
>
<
an hundred
>
<
children are an heritage of the Lord — Psalms 127:3(Authorized Version)
>
. III. preposition Etymology: Middle English, from Old English a-, an, on Date: before 12th century 1. chiefly dialect on, in, at 2. in, to, or for each <
twice a week
>
<
five dollars a dozen
>
Usage: see a II IV. verb Etymology: Middle English, contraction of have Date: 14th century archaic have <
I might a had husbands afore now — John Bunyan
>
V. preposition Etymology: Middle English, by contraction Date: 15th century of — often attached to the preceding word <
kinda
>
<
lotta
>
VI. abbreviation 1. absent 2. acceleration 3. acre 4. adult 5. alto 6. anode 7. answer 8. ante 9. anterior 10. are 11. area 12. atto- 13. author

New Collegiate Dictionary. 2001.

Look at other dictionaries:

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