alpha /ˈalfə/


I. noun

1. the first letter of the Greek alphabet ( Α, α), transliterated as ‘a’.
2. [as modifier] denoting the first of a series of items or categories, e.g. forms of a chemical compound

the α and β chains of haemoglobin.
(Brit.) a first-class mark given for an examination paper or piece of school or college work

he had been awarded alpha double plus.
4. [as modifier]
[Sociology] denoting the dominant animal or human in a particular group

the pack is a tightly knit, highly organized group, led by an alpha wolf.
See also alpha male.
5. [as modifier]
‹informal› denoting a person who has a dominant role or position within a particular sphere

take turns cooking for each other if one of you is too much of an alpha chef.
6. short for alpha test.
7. ( Alpha) [followed by Latin genitive]
[Astronomy] the first (typically the brightest) star in a constellation

Alpha Orionis.
8. [as modifier] relating to alpha decay or alpha particles

an alpha emitter.
9. a code word representing the letter A, used in radio communication.
II. symbol

1. ( α) a plane angle.
2. ( α) angular acceleration.
3. ( α)
[Astronomy] right ascension.
III. phrases

alpha and omega
a. the beginning and the end (used by Christians as a title for Jesus).
b. the essence or most important features.

collective bargaining is seen as the alpha and omega of trade unionism.
– origin via Latin from Greek.

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