A A ([.a]), prep. [Abbreviated form of an (AS. on). See {On}.] 1. 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). [1913 Webster]

2. 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.'' --Macaulay.

Note: 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. [1913 Webster]

The Collaborative International Dictionary of English. 2000.

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