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Consult Chambers 21st Century Dictionary, The Chambers Thesaurus (1996) or Chambers Biographical Dictionary (1997 edition with amendments). Enter your search and choose your title from the drop-down menu.

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A1 or a noun (As, A's or a's) 1 the first letter of the English alphabet. 2 (A) music a the sixth note on the scale of C major; b the musical key which has this note as its base. 3 (usually A) someone or something of first class, first in a sequence, or belonging to a class arbitrarily designated A. 4 medicine one of the four blood types in the ABO blood group system. 5 the principal series of paper sizes, ranging from A0 (841 x 1189mm) to A10 (26 x 37mm). from A to B from one place or point to another. from A to Z from beginning to end.

A2 abbreviation 1 absolute (temperature). 2 cards ace. 3 acre or acres. 4 music alto. 5 ammeter. 6 ampere or amperes. 7 angstrom. 8 area. 9 argon. 10 atomic weight. 11 IVR Austria.

a1 (used before a consonant or consonant sound, eg a boy, a one) or (used before a vowel or vowel sound, eg an egg, an hour) an indefinite article 1 used chiefly with a singular noun, usually where the thing referred to has not been mentioned before, or where it is not a specific example known to the speaker or listener. Compare the. 2 used before a word describing quantity • a dozen eggs. 3 a any or every • A fire is hot; b used after not or never: any at all • not a chance. 4 each or every; per • once a day. 5 one of a specified type • He thinks he's a real Romeo.
ETYMOLOGY: Anglo-Saxon an one.

a

Some people use an before words beginning with a weakly sounded h, eg an hotel, an historic occasion. This use of an is no more nor less correct than a; however, it is sometimes regarded as old-fashioned.

a2 abbreviation 1 acceleration. 2 acre or acres. 3 adjective. 4 are or ares. 5 area. 6 ante (Latin), before.

a', aw or a adj alternative Scots spellings of all.

a-1 prefix, signifying 1 to or towards • ashore. 2 in the process or state of something • abuzza-roving. 3 on • afire. 4 in • asleep.
ETYMOLOGY: Anglo-Saxon an, originally a preposition; sense 2 is still productive.

a-2 or (before a vowel, and in scientific compounds before h) an- prefix, signifying not; without; opposite to • amoralahistoricalanaemiaanhydrous.
ETYMOLOGY: Greek.

Å symbol Ångström or angstrom.

A1 adj 1 first-rate or excellent. 2 said of a ship: in first-class condition.
ETYMOLOGY: 19c: the symbol used for a first-class vessel in Lloyd's Register of Shipping.

AA abbreviation 1 Alcoholics Anonymous, an international association for alcoholics who are trying to give up alcohol completely. 2 anti-aircraft. 3 Automobile Association, a British organization which helps drivers with breakdowns or technical problems, gives road travel information, etc. See also RAC.

AAA abbreviation 1 Brit Amateur Athletic Association. 2 US American Automobile Association. See also AA sense 3.

AAM abbreviation air-to-air missile.

A & R abbreviation artists and repertoire.

A & R man noun a person whose job is to check out new bands, singers, comedians, etc with a view to offering them a recording contract, the opportunity of playing live, etc. Being notorious for never being able to make their minds up, these people have earned the nickname of 'Um & Er men'.

aardvark noun a nocturnal African burrowing mammal with a thick set body, large snout and donkey-like ears.
ETYMOLOGY: 19c: from Dutch aarde earth + vark pig.

Aaron's rod noun a tall stiff flowering plant; a mullein

AB1 noun, medicine one of the four blood types in the ABO blood group system.

AB2 abbreviation 1 Brit able seaman. 2 N Amer, especially US: Artium Baccalaureus (Latin), Bachelor of Arts.

ab- prefix, signifying opposite to; from; away from • abnormal.
ETYMOLOGY: Latin.

abaca noun (abacas) 1 the fibre from a plant grown in the Philippine Islands. Also Manila hemp. 2 the plant itself.

aback adverb (always taken aback) surprised or shocked, especially by something unpleasant or unexpected.
ETYMOLOGY: Anglo-Saxon on bæc backwards.

abacus noun (abaci or abacuses) 1 an arithmetical calculating device, known to the Greeks, Romans and other ancient peoples, consisting of several rows of beads strung on horizontal wires or rods mounted in a frame. 2 archit the flat upper part of a column or capital.
ETYMOLOGY: 17c in sense 1; 16c in sense 2: Latin, from Greek abax drawing-board.

abaft naut adverb in or towards the stern of a ship. prep behind.
ETYMOLOGY: Anglo-Saxon a-1 + beæftan after.

abalone noun (abalones) a marine gastropod mollusc which has a single flattened oval shell lined with bluish mother-of-pearl, with a series of holes around the edge.
ETYMOLOGY: 19c: from American Spanish abulón.

abandon verb (abandoned, abandoning) 1 to give something up completely • abandon hope. 2 to leave (a person, post of responsibility, etc), usually intending not to return. 3 to leave (a place of danger or difficulty, etc), intending either not to return at all or not until the danger or difficulty is past. 4 to give something up to another person's control. noun uncontrolled or uninhibited behaviour. abandonment noun. abandon ship said of the crew and passengers: to leave a ship at sea when it is in danger of sinking.
ETYMOLOGY: 14c: from French abandoner to put under someone's control.

abandon oneself to something to let oneself be overcome by (strong emotion, passion, etc).

abandoned adj 1 deserted. 2 having, or behaving as if one has, no sense of shame or morality. abandonedly adverb.

abandonee noun (abandonees) law an insurer to whom a wreck has been abandoned.

abase verb (abased, abasing) to humiliate or degrade (someone else or oneself). abasement noun.
ETYMOLOGY: 15c: from French abaissier, from Latin bassus low.

abashed adj embarrassed or disconcerted, especially because of shyness.
ETYMOLOGY: 14c as abayste: from French esbahir to astound.

abate verb (abated, abating) tr & intr to become or make less strong or severe. abatement noun.
ETYMOLOGY: 13c: from French abatre to demolish.

abattoir noun a slaughterhouse.
ETYMOLOGY: 19c: from French abatre to demolish.