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the letters of a language in their customary order.
any system of characters or signs with which a language is written:
the Greek alphabet.
any such system for representing the sounds of a language:
the phonetic alphabet.
first elements; basic facts; simplest rudiments:
the alphabet of genetics.
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 scripts are derived.
Contemporary Examples

His class time was spent with worksheets, circling words that rhymed and identifying letters of the alphabet with memory games.
Let Preschoolers Play! Joyce C. Tang April 4, 2011

The “business model” of the new piracy marries low cunning with an alphabet of high-tech acronyms.
The Pirates and Us Tina Brown April 11, 2009

To the left was West Pakistan, where they ruled, and spoke Urdu, and wrote in an alphabet that flowed like water under wind.
Bangladesh’s Midnight Children: Philip Hensher’s ‘Scenes From Early Life’ Lucy Scholes January 8, 2013

“It sometimes seems like we have more contingency plans than there are letters in the alphabet,” he claims.
Lost Ocean Rover Leaves Gap in Biology and Alzheimer’s Research Beenish Ahmed June 8, 2014

The numbers 88 and 14 are signifiant in neo-Nazi culture: “H” is the 8th letter of the alphabet; “HH” stands for “Heil Hitler.”
Obama and the Neo-Nazis Max Blumenthal October 28, 2008

Historical Examples

The alphabet is to be found in the crags and valleys of the summits.
Heroes of To-Day Mary R. Parkman

Of Greek I can decipher perhaps the greater part of the Greek alphabet.
A Treatise on Parents and Children George Bernard Shaw

In their alphabet they have neither s nor v; and some of their letters would require a new character to ascertain them precisely.
An Account of the English Colony in New South Wales, Vol. 1 David Collins

In verity he knew it as glibly as the alphabet, for he was infinitely painstaking.
Dreamers of the Ghetto I. Zangwill

Scarce, however, had he mastered the alphabet, until the faculties of the deformed began to expand.
Wilson’s Tales of the Borders and of Scotland, Vol. 9 Various

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
any set of symbols or characters, esp one representing sounds of speech
basic principles or rudiments, as of a subject

1570s, from Late Latin alphabetum (Tertullian), from Greek alphabetos, from alpha + beta. Alphabet soup first attested 1907. Words for it in Old English included stæfræw, literally “row of letters,” stæfrof “array of letters.”

It was a wise though a lazy cleric whom Luther mentions in his “Table Talk,”–the monk who, instead of reciting his breviary, used to run over the alphabet and then say, “O my God, take this alphabet, and put it together how you will.” [William S. Walsh, “Handy-Book of Literary Curiosities,” 1892]


Read Also:

  • Alphabet code

    a list of easily distinguishable words, each representing a letter of the alphabet, used in radio and telephonic communications.

  • Alphabet soup

    a soup containing small noodles in the shapes of letters of the alphabet. noun confusing or incomprehensible speech or language, as in abbreviations noun phrase An array of initialisms or acronyms: Their business-speak is alphabet soup

  • Alphabetic

    in the order of the letters of the : alphabetical arrangement. pertaining to, expressed by, or using an : alphabetical writing. Historical Examples alphabetic links have been added at the beginning of the index, for ease of navigation. Indian Fairy Tales Anonymous alphabetic links have been added to the index for ease of navigation. Cooking […]

  • Alphabetic language

    alphabetic language human language A written human language in which symbols reflect the pronunciation of the words. Examples are English, Greek, Russian, Thai, Arabic and Hebrew. Alphabetic languages contrast with ideographic languages. I18N Encyclopedia (http://i18ngurus.com/encyclopedia/alphabetic_language.html). (2004-08-29) Historical Examples This is as incorrect as to call a language an alphabetic language. The English Language Robert Gordon […]

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