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[al-fuh-bet, -bit] /ˈæl fəˌbɛt, -bɪt/
the letters of a language in their customary order.
any system of characters or signs with which a language is written:
the Greek alphabet.
any such system for representing the sounds of a language:
the phonetic alphabet.
first elements; basic facts; simplest rudiments:
the alphabet of genetics.
the alphabet, a system of writing, developed in the ancient Near East and transmitted from the northwest Semites to the Greeks, in which each symbol ideally represents one sound unit in the spoken language, and from which most alphabetical scripts are derived.
Origin of alphabet
late Middle English
1375-1425; late Middle English alphabete < Late Latin alphabētum, alteration of Greek alphábētos. See alpha, beta
Related forms
prealphabet, adjective, noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for alphabet
  • To practice the alphabet and vocabulary, you can ask them to think of words that start with specific letters.
  • It comes with a stylus for tapping on the screen and writing notes in the modified alphabet that the device requires you to use.
  • His code used short and long pulses of electric current to represent letters of the alphabet.
  • Addresses starting with letters at the beginning of the alphabet get more spam.
  • Printing could only thrive in a culture with a less sophisticated writing system-an alphabet.
  • At the time they were inscribed, the alphabet was so novel that the authors struggled to shape their letters.
  • The story of a rabbit's exhausting efforts to paint a picture presents the letters of the alphabet.
  • When Pranav was 4-and-a-half, his parents noticed he seemed unusually intelligent while playing with alphabet sets.
  • The tools of technology can seem like a confusing alphabet-soup.
  • He'll devise a tactile alphabet for the blind.
British Dictionary definitions for alphabet


a set of letters or other signs used in a writing system, usually arranged in a fixed order, each letter or sign being used to represent one or sometimes more than one phoneme in the language being transcribed
any set of symbols or characters, esp one representing sounds of speech
basic principles or rudiments, as of a subject
Word Origin
C15: from Late Latin alphabētum, from Greek alphabētos, from the first two letters of the Greek alphabet; see alpha, beta
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 alphabet

1570s, from Late Latin alphabetum (Tertullian), from Greek alphabetos, from alpha + beta. Alphabet soup first attested 1907. Words for it in Old English included stæfræw, literally "row of letters," stæfrof "array of letters."

It was a wise though a lazy cleric whom Luther mentions in his "Table Talk,"--the monk who, instead of reciting his breviary, used to run over the alphabet and then say, "O my God, take this alphabet, and put it together how you will." [William S. Walsh, "Handy-Book of Literary Curiosities," 1892]

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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