a or an

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Collins Concise English Dictionary © HarperCollins Publishers::

a, A // n ( pl a's, A's, As)
  1. the first letter and first vowel of the modern English alphabet
  2. any of several speech sounds represented by this letter, in English as in take, bag, calm, shortage, or cobra
  3. Also called: alpha the first in a series, esp the highest grade or mark, as in an examination
  4. from A to Zfrom start to finish, thoroughly and in detail
a /ə; (stressed or emphatic) / determiner (indefinite article; used before an initial consonant)
Compare an1
  1. used preceding a singular countable noun, if the noun is not previously specified or known: a dog, a terrible disappointment
  2. used preceding a noun or determiner of quantity: a cupful, a dozen eggs, a great many, to read a lot
  3. preceded by once, twice, several times, etc: each or every; per: once a day, fifty pence a pound
  4. a certain; one: to change policy at a stroke, a Mr Jones called
  5. (preceded by not) any at all: not a hope

See the1



A symbol for
  1. a note having a frequency of 440 hertz (A above middle C) or this value multiplied or divided by any power of 2; the sixth note of the scale of C major
  2. the major or minor key having this note as its tonic
  3. a human blood type of the ABO group, containing the A antigen
  4. (in Britain) a major arterial road
  5. ampere(s)
  6. absolute (temperature)
  7. area
  8. (in combination) atomic: an A-bomb, an A-plant
  9. a person whose job is in top management, or who holds a senior administrative or professional position
  10. (as modifier): an A worker
    See also occupation groupings



Å symbol for
  1. angstrom unit



a-, (before a vowel)an- prefix
  1. not; without; opposite to: atonal, asocial
Etymology: from Greek a-, an- not, without
a- prefix
  1. on; in; towards: afoot, abed, aground, aback
  2. in the condition or state of: afloat, alive, asleep



ad- prefix
  1. to; towards: adsorb, adverb
  2. near; next to: adrenal
Etymology: from Latin: to, towards. As a prefix in words of Latin origin, ad- became ac-, af-, ag-, al-, an-, acq-, ar-, as-, and at- before c, f, g, l, n, q, r, s, and t, and became a- before gn, sc, sp, st



ampere /ˈæmpɛə/ n
  1. the basic SI unit of electric current; the constant current that, when maintained in two parallel conductors of infinite length and negligible cross section placed 1 metre apart in free space, produces a force of 2 × 10–7 newton per metre between them. 1 ampere is equivalent to 1 coulomb per second
  2. a former unit of electric current (international ampere); the current that, when passed through a solution of silver nitrate, deposits silver at the rate of 0.001118 gram per second. 1 international ampere equals 0.999835 ampere

Abbreviation: amp

Symbol: A
Etymology: 19th Century: named after André Marie Ampère



angstrom /ˈæŋstrʌm -strəm/ n
  1. Also called: angstrom unit a unit of length equal to 10–10 metre, used principally to express the wavelengths of electromagnetic radiations. It is equivalent to 0.1 nanometre
    Symbol: Å,
    Symbol: A
Etymology: 20th Century: named after Anders J. Ångström



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