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Old English æt, from Proto-Germanic *at (cf. Old Norse, Gothic at, Old Frisian et, Old High German az), from PIE *ad- "to, near, at" (cf. Latin ad "to, toward" Sanskrit adhi "near;" see ad-).
Lost in German and Dutch, which use their equivalent of to; in Scandinavian, however, to has been lost and at fills its place. In choosing between at church, in church, etc. at is properly distinguished from in or on by involving some practical connection; a worshipper is at church; a tourist is in the church.
The colloquial use of at after where ("where it's at") is attested from 1859. At last is recorded from late 13c.; adverbial phrase at least was in use by 1775. At in Middle English was used freely with prepositions (e.g. at after, which is in Shakespeare), but this has faded with the exception of at about, which was used in modern times by Trollope, Virginia Woolfe, D.H. Lawrence, and Evelyn Waugh, but nonetheless is regarded as a sign of incompetent writing by my copy editor bosses.
The symbol for the element astatine.
Variant of ad-.
The symbol for astatine.
A highly unstable, rare, radioactive element that is the heaviest of the halogen elements. Its most stable isotope has a half-life of 8.3 hours. Atomic number 85; melting point 302°C; boiling point 337°C; valence probably 1, 3, 5, 7. See Periodic Table.
radioactive chemical element and the heaviest member of the halogen elements, or Group 17 (Group VIIa) of the periodic table. Astatine, which has no stable isotopes, was first synthetically produced (1940) at the University of California by American physicists Dale R. Corson, Kenneth R. MacKenzie, and Emilio Segre, who bombarded bismuth with accelerated alpha particles (helium nuclei) to yield astatine and neutrons. Naturally occurring astatine isotopes have subsequently been found in minute amounts in the three natural radioactive decay series, in which they occur by minor branching (astatine-218 in the uranium series, astatine-216 in the thorium series, and astatine-215 and astatine-219 in the actinium series). Thirty-three isotopes are known; astatine-210, with a half-life of 8.3 hours, is the longest lived.