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[al-fuh] /ˈæl fə/
the first letter of the Greek alphabet (A, α).
the vowel sound represented by this letter.
the first; beginning.
(initial capital letter) Astronomy. used to designate the brightest star in a constellation.
Chemistry. one of two or more isomeric compounds.
the first in a series of related items: frequently used in chemistry and physics.
Chiefly British. a mark or grade corresponding to an A.
Compare beta (def 8), gamma (def 9).
  1. (of an animal) having the highest rank in a dominance hierarchy:
    the alpha female of an elephant pack.
  2. being the most dominant, powerful, or assertive person in a particular group.
See also alpha male.
Put the files in alpha order.
Chemistry. pertaining or linked to the carbon atom closest to a particular group in an organic molecule.
< Latin < Greek álpha < Semitic; cf. aleph Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for alpha
  • First of all, magnanimity is an alpha behavior, a sign of strength.
  • There were no alpha coefficients, there were no discrimination indices.
  • Where beta represented arousal, alpha represents non-arousal.
  • Wolf packs are supposedly despotic hierarchies dominated by alpha wolves.
  • Comparable alpha females are wives and homemakers with successful marriages.
  • Also called an alpha predator or top predator aquatic: adjective: having to do with water.
  • alpha males maintain these herds, and mate with the group's dominant hen.
  • We already had a lurcher that she has now got used to but is definitely the alpha over her.
  • Perhaps it starts because they are alpha and due to their size, start feeling intimidated.
  • Except in this case, the eco-alpha dogs are off the leash.
British Dictionary definitions for alpha


the first letter in the Greek alphabet (Α, α), a vowel transliterated as a
(Brit) the highest grade or mark, as in an examination
  1. involving or relating to helium-4 nuclei: an alpha particle
  2. relating to one of two or more allotropes or crystal structures of a solid: alpha iron
  3. relating to one of two or more isomeric forms of a chemical compound, esp one in which a group is attached to the carbon atom to which the principal group is attached
(modifier) denoting the dominant person or animal in a group: the alpha male
Word Origin
via Latin from Greek, of Phoenician origin; related to Hebrew āleph, literally: ox


(foll by the genitive case of a specified constellation) usually the brightest star in a constellation: Alpha Centauri
(communications) a code word for the letter a
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for alpha

c.1300, from Latin alpha, from Greek alpha, from Hebrew or Phoenician aleph (see aleph). The Greeks added -a because Greek words cannot end in most consonants. Sense of "beginning of anything" is from late 14c., often paired with omega (last letter in the Greek alphabet) as "the end." Sense of "first in a sequence" is from 1620s. Alpha male was in use by c.1960 among scientists studying animals; applied to humans in society from c.1992.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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alpha in Medicine

alpha al·pha (āl'fə)

  1. Symbol α The first letter of the Greek alphabet.

  2. The first one in a series; the beginning.

  3. The first position from a designated carbon atom in an organic molecule at which an atom or radical group may be substituted.

  1. Characterizing the atom or radical group that is closest to the functional group of atoms in an organic molecule.

  2. Relating to one of two or more closely related substances, as in stereoisomers.

  3. Relating to or characterizing a polypeptide chain that is one of five types of heavy chains present in immunoglobins.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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alpha in Technology
(Or "Input") An extension of ALGOL 60 for the M-20 computer developed by A.P. Ershov at Novosibirsk in 1961. ALPHA includes matrix operations, slices, and complex arithmetic.
["The Alpha Automatic Programming System", A.P. Ershov ed., A-P 1971].

1. A compiler generator written by Andreas Koschinsky and described in his thesis at the Technische Universitaet Berlin. Alpha takes an attribute grammar and uses Bison and Flex to generate a parser, a scanner and an ASE evaluator (Jazayeri and Walter).
The documentation is in german.
2. DEC Alpha.
The Free On-line Dictionary of Computing, © Denis Howe 2010
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Related Abbreviations for alpha


The American Heritage® Abbreviations Dictionary, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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