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 Greek Alpha, of the same form; and this was made from the first letter 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.

This letter, in English, is used for several different vowel sounds. 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).

2. (Mus.) 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 (L. per se by itself), one preëminent; a nonesuch. [Obs.]

O fair Creseide, the flower and A per se

Of Troy and Greece.



(a emph. ā).

1. [Shortened form of an. AS. ān one. See One.] An adjective, commonly called the indefinite article, and signifying one or any, but less emphatically. "At a birth"; "In a word"; "At a blow". Shak. 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, a dog, a house, a man; a color; a sweetness; a hundred, a fleet, a regiment; a few persons, a great many days. 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 An]; as, a table, a woman, a year, a unit, a eulogy, a ewe, a oneness, such a one, etc. Formally an was used both before vowels and consonants.

2. [Originally the preposition a (an, on).] In each; to or for each; as, "twenty leagues a day", "a hundred pounds a year", "a dollar a yard", etc.


(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).

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. 11:21. "We’ll a birding together." "It was a doing." Shak. "He burst out a laughing." Macaulay. 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.


[From AS. of off, from. See Of.] Of. [Obs.] "The name of John a Gaunt." "What time a day is it?" Shak. "It’s six a clock." B. Jonson.


A barbarous corruption of have, of he, and sometimes of it and of they. "So would I a done" "A brushes his hat." Shak.


An expletive, void of sense, to fill up the meter

A merry heart goes all the day,

Your sad tires in a mile-a.




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. ofdŭne off the dun or hill). (3) AS. ā- (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 à (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-.

Besides these, there are other sources from which the prefix a takes its origin.

A 1

A 1

A registry mark given by underwriters (as at Lloyd’s) to ships in first-class condition. Inferior grades are indicated by A 2 and A 3.

A 1 is also applied colloquially to other things to imply superiority; prime; first-class; first-rate.



n. [D. aam, fr. LL. ama; cf. L. hama a water bucket, Gr. ἄμη] A Dutch and German measure of liquids, varying in different cities, being at Amsterdam about 41 wine gallons, at Antwerp, at Hamburg. [Written also Aum and Awm.]



n. [D., earth-pig.] (Zoöl.) An edentate mammal, of the genus Orycteropus, somewhat resembling a pig, common in some parts of Southern Africa. It burrows in the ground, and feeds entirely on ants, which it catches with its long, slimy tongue.



n. [D., earth-wolf] (Zoöl.) A carnivorous quadruped (Proteles Lalandii), of South Africa, resembling the fox and hyena. See Proteles.



Aa-ron’ic-al , a. Pertaining to Aaron, the first high priest of the Jews.

Aaron's rod

Aar’on’s rod’

[See Exodus 7:9. and Numbers 17:8.]

1. (Arch.) A rod with one serpent twined around it, thus differing from the caduceus of Mercury, which has two.

2. (Bot.) A plant with a tall flowering stem; esp. the great mullein, or hag-taper, and the golden-rod.



[Latin prep., etymologically the same as E. of, off. See Of.] A prefix in many words of Latin origin. It signifies from, away, separating, or departure, as in abduct, abstract, abscond. See A- (6).



n. [Of Syriac origin.] The fifth month of the Jewish year according to the ecclesiastical reckoning, the eleventh by the civil computation, coinciding nearly with August. W. Smith.



n. [The native name.] The Manila-hemp plant (Musa textilis); also, its fiber. See Manila hemp under Manila.



v. t. [LL. abacinatus, p. p. of abacinare; ab off + bacinus a basin.] To blind by a red-hot metal plate held before the eyes. [R.]



n. The act of abacinating. [R.]



n. [Gr. ἀβακίσκος, dim of ἄβαξ. See Abacus.] (Arch.) One of the tiles or squares of a tessellated pavement; an abaculus.



n. [LL abacista, fr. abacus.] One who uses an abacus in casting accounts; a calculator.



adv. [Pref. a- + back; AS. on bæc at, on, or toward the back. See Back.]

1. Toward the back or rear; backward. "Therewith aback she started." Chaucer.

2. Behind; in the rear. Knolles.

3. (Naut.) Backward against the mast;—said of the sails when pressed by the wind. Totten.

To be taken aback. (a) To be driven backward against the mast;—said of the sails, also of the ship when the sails are thus driven. (b) To be suddenly checked, baffled, or discomfited. Dickens.


n. An abacus. [Obs.] B. Jonson.



a. [L. ab + E. actinal.] (Zoöl.) Pertaining to the surface or end opposite to the mouth in a radiate animal;—opposed to actinal. "The aboral or abactinal area." L. Agassiz.



n. Stealing cattle on a large scale. [Obs.]



n. [L., fr. abigere to drive away; ab + agere to drive.] (Law) One who steals and drives away cattle or beasts by herds or droves. [Obs.]



n.; pl. Abaculi [L., dim. of abacus.] (Arch.) A small tile of glass, marble, or other substance, of various colors, used in making ornamental patterns in mosaic pavements. Fairholt.



n.; E. pl. Abacuses; L. pl. Abaci [L. abacus, abax, Gr. ἄβαξ]

1. A table or tray strewn with sand, anciently used for drawing, calculating, etc. [Obs.]

2. A calculating table or frame; an instrument for performing arithmetical calculations by balls sliding on wires, or counters in grooves, the lowest line representing units, the second line, tens, etc. It is still employed in China.

3. (Arch.) (a) The uppermost member or division of the capital of a column, immediately under the architrave. See Column. (b) A tablet, panel, or compartment in ornamented or mosaic work.

4. A board, tray, or table, divided into perforated compartments, for holding cups, bottles, or the like; a kind of cupboard, buffet, or sideboard.

Abacus harmonicus (Mus.), an ancient diagram showing the structure and disposition of the keys of an instrument. Crabb.



n. [Pg., the female rhinoceros.] The rhinoceros. [Obs.] Purchas.



n. [Heb. ābaddōn(r) destruction, abyss, fr. ābad to be lost, to perish.]

1. The destroyer, or angel of the bottomless pit;—the same as Apollyon and Asmodeus.

2. Hell; the bottomless pit. [Poetic]

In all her gates, Abaddon rues

Thy bold attempt.




prep. [Pref. a- on + OE. baft, baften, biaften, AS. beæftan; be by + æftan behind. See After, Aft, By.] (Naut.) Behind; toward the stern from; as, abaft the wheelhouse.

Abaft the beam. See under Beam.


adv. (Naut.) Toward the stern; aft; as, to go abaft.



n. [For obeisance; confused with F. abaisser, E. abase.] Obeisance. [Obs.] Jonson.



n. Ivory black or animal charcoal. Weale.



p. p. Abashed; confounded; discomfited. [Obs.] Chaucer.



v. t. [L. abalienatus, p. p. of abalienare; ab + alienus foreign, alien. See Alien.]

1. (Civil Law) To transfer the title of from one to another; to alienate.

2. To estrange; to withdraw. [Obs.]

3. To cause alienation of (mind). Sandys.



n. [L. abalienatio: cf. F. abaliénation.] The act of abalienating; alienation; estrangement. [Obs.]



n. (Zoöl.) A univalve mollusk of the genus Haliotis. The shell is lined with mother-of-pearl, and used for ornamental purposes; the sea-ear. Several large species are found on the coast of California, clinging closely to the rocks.



v. t. [Contracted from abandon.]

1. To abandon. [Obs.]

Enforced the kingdom to aband.


2. To banish; to expel. [Obs.] Mir. for Mag.



v. t. [imp. & p. p. Abandoned p. pr. & vb. n. Abandoning.] [OF. abandoner, F. abandonner; a (L. ad) + bandon permission, authority, LL. bandum, bannum, public proclamation, interdiction, bannire to proclaim, summon: of Germanic origin; cf. Goth. bandwjan to show by signs, to designate OHG. ban proclamation. The word meant to proclaim, put under a ban, put under control; hence, as in OE., to compel, subject, or to leave in the control of another, and hence, to give up. See Ban.]

1. To cast or drive out; to banish; to expel; to reject. [Obs.]

That he might... abandon them from him.


Being all this time abandoned from your bed.


2. To give up absolutely; to forsake entirely; to renounce utterly; to relinquish all connection with or concern on; to desert, as a person to whom one owes allegiance or fidelity; to quit; to surrender.

Hope was overthrown, yet could not be abandoned.

I. Taylor.

3. Reflexively: To give (one’s self) up without attempt at self-control; to yield (one’s self) unrestrainedly;—often in a bad sense.

He abandoned himself... to his favorite vice.


4. (Mar. Law) To relinquish all claim to;—used when an insured person gives up to underwriters all claim to the property covered by a policy, which may remain after loss or damage by a peril insured against.

Syn.—To give up; yield; forego; cede; surrender; resign; abdicate; quit; relinquish; renounce; desert; forsake; leave; retire; withdraw from.—To Abandon, Desert, Forsake. These words agree in representing a person as giving up or leaving some object, but differ as to the mode of doing it. The distinctive sense of abandon is that of giving up a thing absolutely and finally; as, to abandon one’s friends, places, opinions, good or evil habits, a hopeless enterprise, a shipwrecked vessel. Abandon is more widely applicable than forsake or desert. The Latin original of desert appears to have been originally applied to the case of deserters from military service. Hence, the verb, when used of persons in the active voice, has usually or always a bad sense, implying some breach of fidelity, honor, etc., the leaving of something which the person should rightfully stand by and support; as, to desert one’s colors, to desert one’s post, to desert one’s principles or duty. When used in the passive, the sense is not necessarily bad; as, the fields were deserted, a deserted village, deserted halls. Forsake implies the breaking off of previous habit, association, personal connection, or that the thing left had been familiar or frequented; as, to forsake old friends, to forsake the paths of rectitude, the blood forsook his cheeks. It may be used either in a good or in a bad sense.


n. [F. abandon. fr. abandonner. See Abandon, v.] Abandonment; relinquishment. [Obs.]


n. [F. See Abandon.] A complete giving up to natural impulses; freedom from artificial constraint; careless freedom or ease.




1. Forsaken, deserted. "Your abandoned streams." Thomson.

2. Self-abandoned, or given up to vice; extremely wicked, or sinning without restraint; irreclaimably wicked; as, an abandoned villain.

Syn.—Profligate; dissolute; corrupt; vicious; depraved; reprobate; wicked; unprincipled; graceless; vile.—Abandoned, Profligate, Reprobate. These adjectives agree in expressing the idea of great personal depravity. Profligate has reference to open and shameless immoralities, either in private life or political conduct; as, a profligate court, a profligate ministry. Abandoned is stronger, and has reference to the searing of conscience and hardening of heart produced by a man’s giving himself wholly up to iniquity; as, a man of abandoned character. Reprobate describes the condition of one who has become insensible to reproof, and who is morally abandoned and lost beyond hope of recovery.

God gave them over to a reprobate mind.

Rom. 1:28