noun \ˈal-fə-ˌbet, -bət\

: the letters of a language arranged in their usual order

Full Definition of ALPHABET

a :  a set of letters or other characters with which one or more languages are written especially if arranged in a customary order
b :  a system of signs or signals that serve as equivalents for letters
alphabet table

Examples of ALPHABET

  1. The Roman alphabet begins with A and ends with Z.
  2. <you need to learn the alphabet of genealogy before you can move on to more advanced study>

Origin of ALPHABET

Middle English alphabete, from Late Latin alphabetum, from Greek alphabētos, from alpha + bēta beta
First Known Use: 1513

Other Alphabet Terms

cuneiform, linear, minuscule, pictograph, rune, symbology, wedge


noun    (Concise Encyclopedia)

Set of symbols or characters that represent language's sounds in writing. Each character usually represents a simple vowel, a diphthong (two vowels), or one or two consonants. A writing system in which one character represents a whole syllable is called a syllabary. The first alphabet is believed to have been the North Semitic, which originated in the eastern Mediterranean region between 1700 and 1500 BC. Alphabets that arose in the next 500 years included the Canaanite and Aramaic, from which the modern Hebrew and Arabic alphabets descended, and the Greek (ancestor of the Latin alphabet), considered the first true alphabet because it includes both consonants and vowels. Scholars have attempted to establish an exact correspondence between each sound and its symbol in new alphabets such as the International Phonetic Alphabet.


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