Hypertext Webster Gateway: "alpha*"

From Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary (1913) (web1913)

Alpha \Al"pha\, n. [L. alpha, Gr. 'a`lfa, from Heb. [=a]leph,
name of the first letter in the alphabet, also meaning ox.]
The first letter in the Greek alphabet, answering to A, and
hence used to denote the beginning.

In am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the
first and the last. --Rev. xxii.

Note: Formerly used also denote the chief; as, Plato was the
alpha of the wits.

Note: In cataloguing stars, the brightest star of a
constellation in designated by Alpha ([alpha]); as,
[alpha] Lyr[ae].

From Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary (1913) (web1913)

A \A\ (named [=a] in the English, and most commonly ["a] in
other languages).
The first letter of the English and of many other alphabets.
The capital A of the alphabets of Middle and Western Europe,
as also the small letter (a), besides the forms in Italic,
black letter, etc., are all descended from the old Latin A,
which was borrowed from the Greek {Alpha}, of the same form;
and this was made from the first letter (?) of the
Ph[oe]nician alphabet, the equivalent of the Hebrew Aleph,
and itself from the Egyptian origin. The Aleph was a
consonant letter, with a guttural breath sound that was not
an element of Greek articulation; and the Greeks took it to
represent their vowel Alpha with the ["a] sound, the
Ph[oe]nician alphabet having no vowel symbols. This letter,
in English, is used for several different vowel sounds. See
Guide to pronunciation, [sect][sect] 43-74. The regular long
a, as in fate, etc., is a comparatively modern sound, and has
taken the place of what, till about the early part of the
17th century, was a sound of the quality of ["a] (as in far).

2. (Mus.) The name of the sixth tone in the model major scale
(that in C), or the first tone of the minor scale, which
is named after it the scale in A minor. The second string
of the violin is tuned to the A in the treble staff. -- A
sharp (A[sharp]) is the name of a musical tone
intermediate between A and B. -- A flat (A[flat]) is the
name of a tone intermediate between A and G.

{A per se} (L. per se by itself), one pre["e]minent; a
nonesuch. [Obs.]

O fair Creseide, the flower and A per se Of Troy and
Greece. --Chaucer.

From WordNet (r) 1.7 (wn)

adj : first in order of importance; "the alpha male in the group
of chimpanzees"; "the alpha star in a constellation is
the brightest or main star"
n 1: the 1st letter of the Greek alphabet
2: the beginning of a series or sequence; "the Alpha and Omega,
the first and the last, the beginning and the

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