Definition of alpha in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈalfə/


1The first letter of the Greek alphabet (Α, α), transliterated as ‘a.’.
Example sentences
  • He named them using the first two letters of the Greek alphabet, alpha and beta.
  • Her talent scarcely runs the gamut from A to alpha minus.
  • It's five characters, all alphas, and probably all lower case.
1.1 [as modifier] Denoting the first of a series of items or categories, e.g., forms of a chemical compound: alpha interferon the α and β chains of hemoglobin
More example sentences
  • Three additional categories approached significance at the adjusted alpha levels.
  • The log power of activity in delta, theta, alpha, sigma, and beta bandwidths was computed.
  • Results showed hypnotic trait effects on skin resistance, heart and respiratory rate as well as on EEG theta, alpha, beta and gamma relative power changes.
1.2 [as modifier] Zoology & 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.
More example sentences
  • Triangle, named for her high-peaked white brow, is the troop's alpha animal; her infant is fearless.
  • He talked about how the alpha male chimp tends to have one of two models of leadership, one being a bullying model and the other being a populist leader model.
  • Modern primatologists point out that an alpha animal, contrary to its reputation as solitary lord of all it surveys, is thickly enmeshed in a social webbing, dependent on the reciprocities of group life.
1.3 [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
More example sentences
  • She has built a reputation working with alpha architects.
  • He became the alpha student of the program.
  • Although there is no point where a formal line can be drawn, there is a subset of people with a disproportinate amount of links, traffic, and influence who are, by tradition called the alpha bloggers.
1.4 short for alpha test.
Example sentences
  • A new build of Longhorn, Microsoft's follow-up to XP, has leaked, and although it's still an alpha, reports of increased stability make it sound almost worth stealing.
  • The final release of the game is hardly better than the leaked alpha, which they said was nothing but a rough version, that needed polishing.
  • We weren't asked a cent for the privilege of downloading their music - presumably once Wippit gets out of alpha, the company will begin charging.
1.5 (Alpha) [followed by Latin genitive] The first (typically the brightest) star in a constellation: Alpha Centauri
More example sentences
  • And now, in a small nebula brimming with new lifeforms, ready and innocently waiting to see what the universe had in store for them, an Alpha lurks.
  • These alphas - named after the first letter in the Greek alphabet - are the brightest stars in their constellation, defining life as the young teen knows it.
1.6 [as modifier] Relating to alpha decay or alpha particles: an alpha emitter
More example sentences
  • Part of this energy is seen in the form of alpha radiation, which occurs in the process of alpha decay.
  • Helium, a light gas, is formed during radioactive alpha decay in rock minerals.
  • Similar damage is caused by the alpha recoil, which is a trace of the energy released during the alpha decay of uranium and thorium isotopes.
2A code word representing the letter A, used in radio communication.
Example sentences
  • We soon learned that the alpha bravo code is a type of phonetic alphabet used by NATO.
  • He states his 3-letter personal identification code, "ABC," to which the system responds in confirmation, "Alpha, Bravo, Charlie. Is that correct?"


1 (α) A plane angle.
2 (α) Angular acceleration.
3 (α) Astronomy Right ascension.


alpha and omega

The beginning and the end (especially used by Christians as a title for Jesus).
Example sentences
  • When Jesus talks about being alpha and omega, it offers the picture of someone at both ends of something, without middle ground.
  • A range of portable items have been found bearing Christian motifs such as the chi-rho, alpha and omega, or the representation of a fish.
  • A sign outside says in huge letters: Jesus said ‘I am the alpha and the omega, the beginning and the end’.
1.1The essence or most important features: collective bargaining is seen as the alpha and omega of trade unionism
More example sentences
  • Why should one of the elect be bothered about table manners, if cognitive ability, without virtue or civility, is the alpha and omega of human excellence?
  • We are the alpha and the omega in seashore dining and freshly prepared gourmet seafood.
  • Instead, Jews and Judaism provided both the foundation of society and its hope for the future - they have become, if you will, the alpha and the omega of humanity.


From Semitic; cf. Phoenician’alp, lit. 'ox', and Hebrew’aleph 'aleph'.

Words that rhyme with alpha

alfalfa, Balfour, Wadi Halfa

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: al·pha

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