/ eɪ; NAmE /
noun, symbol, abbreviation
noun (also a) (pl. As, A's, a's / eɪz; NAmE /)
■ [C, U] the first letter of the English alphabet:
- ‘Apple' begins with (an) A / ‘A'.
■ A [C, U] (music) the 6th note in the scale of C major
■ [C, U] the highest mark / grade that a student can get for a piece of work or course of study:
- She got (an) A in / for Biology.
- He had straight A's (= nothing but A's) all through high school.
■ A [U] used to represent the first of two or more possibilities:
- Shall we go for plan A or plan B?
■ A [U] used to represent a person, for example in an imagined situation or to hide their identity:
- Assume A knows B is guilty.
---see also A-frame, A level, A-road
from A to B
from one place to another:
- For me a car is just a means of getting from A to B.
from A to Z
including everything there is to know about sth:
- He knew his subject from A to Z.
■ used in Britain before a number to refer to a particular important road:
- the A34 to Newbury
■ used (but not in the US) before numbers which show standard metric sizes of paper:
- a sheet of A4 paper (= 297×210mm)
- A3 (= 420×297mm)
- A5 (= 210×148mm)
(in writing) amp(s)
/ ə; NAmE ; strong form eɪ; NAmE / (also an / ən; NAmE ; strong form æn; NAmE /) indefinite article
The form a is used before consonant sounds and the form an before vowel sounds. When saying abbreviations like ‘FM' or ‘UN', use a or an according to how the first letter is said. For example, F is a consonant, but begins with the sound / e / and so you say:
- an FM radio . U is a vowel but begins with / j / and so you say: a UN declaration .
■ used before countable or singular nouns referring to people or things that have not already been mentioned:
- a man / horse / unit
- an aunt / egg / hour / x-ray
- I can only carry two at a time.
- There's a visitor for you.
- She's a friend of my father's (= one of my father's friends).
■ used before uncountable nouns when these have an adjective in front of them, or phrase following them:
- a good knowledge of French
- a sadness that won't go away
■ any; every:
- A lion is a dangerous animal.
■ used to show that sb/sth is a member of a group or profession:
- Their new car's a BMW.
- She's a Buddhist.
- He's a teacher.
- Is that a Monet (= a painting by Monet)?
■ used in front of two nouns that are seen as a single unit:
- a knife and fork
■ used instead of one before some numbers:
- A thousand people were there.
■ used when talking about prices, quantities and rates
SYN per:
- They cost 50p a kilo.
- I can type 50 words a minute.
- He was driving at 50 miles an hour.
■ a person like sb:
- She's a little Hitler.
■ used before sb's name to show that the speaker does not know the person:
- There's a Mrs Green to see you.
■ used before the names of days of the week to talk about one particular day:
- She died on a Tuesday.
Middle English: weak form of Old English ān one.
/ eɪ; NAmE /
(in nouns, adjectives and adverbs) not; without:
- atheist
- atypical
- asexually
A1 adjective
(informal) very good:
- The car was in A1 condition.
A2 (level)
/ ˌeɪ ˈtuː levl; NAmE /
[C, U] a British exam usually taken in Year 13 of school or college (= the final year) when students are aged 18. Students must first have studied a subject at AS level before they can take an A2 exam. Together AS and A2 level exams form the A-level qualification, which is needed for entrance to universities:
- A2 exams
- Students will normally take three A2 subjects.
- He's doing an A2 (level) in History.
- More than 20 subjects are on offer at A2 level at our college.
For more information see the Cultural Guide
/ ˌeɪ ˈeɪ; NAmE /
■ (usually the AA) Automobile Association (a British organization which provides services for car owners)
Alcoholics Anonymous
For more information see the Cultural Guide
/ ˌeɪ eɪ ˈeɪ; NAmE /
■ American Automobile Association (an American organization which provides services for car owners)
■ (in the UK) Amateur Athletic Association
For more information see the Cultural Guide
A & E
/ ˌeɪ ənd ˈiː; NAmE /
accident and emergency
A and P
/ ˌeɪ ən ˈpiː; NAmE /
the Great Atlantic and Pacific Tea Company (a US company that has food shops / stores in all the states of the US)
For more information see the Cultural Guide
A & R
/ ˌeɪ ənd ˈɑː(r); NAmE /
artists and repertoire (= the department in a record company that is responsible for finding new singers and bands and getting them to sign a contract with the company)
/ ˈɑːdvɑːk; NAmE ˈɑːrdvɑːrk/
an animal from southern Africa that has a long nose and tongue and that eats insects
late 18th cent.: from South African Dutch, from aarde earth + vark pig.
/ ɑː; NAmE ɑːr/
used to express fear, anger, or some other strong emotion:
- Aargh---get that cat off the table!
late 18th cent.: longer form of ah, expressing a prolonged cry.
/ əˈbæk; NAmE /
be taken aˈback (by sb/sth)
to be shocked or surprised by sb/sth:
- She was completely taken aback by his anger.
---see also take sb aback → note at surprise
Old English on bæc, from a- to, towards and back. The term came to be treated as a single word in nautical use.
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