the alphabet

alphabet

[al-fuh-bet, -bit]
noun
1.
the letters of a language in their customary order.
2.
any system of characters or signs with which a language is written: the greek alphabet.
3.
any such system for representing the sounds of a language: the phonetic alphabet.
4.
first elements; basic facts; simplest rudiments: the alphabet of genetics.
5.
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:
1375–1425; late Middle English alphabete < Late Latin alphabētum, alteration of Greek alphábētos. See alpha, beta

prealphabet, adjective, noun
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
Cite This Source Link To the alphabet
Collins
World English Dictionary
alphabet (ˈælfəˌbɛt)
 
n
1.  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
2.  any set of symbols or characters, esp one representing sounds of speech
3.  basic principles or rudiments, as of a subject
 
[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 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
Cite This Source
Etymonline
Word Origin & History

alphabet
1560s (implied in alphabetical), from L.L. alphabetum (Tertullian), from Gk. alphabetos, from alpha + beta, the first two letters of it, from Heb.-Phoen. aleph, pausal form of eleph "ox" + beth, lit. "house;" the letters so called because their shapes resembled or represented those objects. The Greeks
added -a to the end of many Heb.-Phoenician letter names because Gk. words cannot end in most consonants. Alphabet soup first attested 1907.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
Cite This Source
Copyright © 2014 Dictionary.com, LLC. All rights reserved.
  • Please Login or Sign Up to use the Recent Searches feature