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abe·​ce·​dar·​i·​an ˌā-bē-(ˌ)sē-ˈder-ē-ən How to pronounce abecedarian (audio)
: one learning the rudiments of something (such as the alphabet)


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: of or relating to the alphabet
: alphabetically arranged

Did you know?

The history of abecedarian is as simple as ABC—literally. The term's Late Latin ancestor, abecedārius (which meant "alphabetical"), was created as a combination of the letters A, B, C, and D, plus the adjective suffix -arius; you can hear the echo of that origin in the pronunciation of the English term (think "ABC-darian"). In its oldest documented English uses in the early 1600s, abecedarian was a noun meaning "one learning the rudiments of something"; it specifically referred to someone who was learning the alphabet. The adjective began appearing in English texts a few decades after the noun.

Examples of abecedarian in a Sentence

Noun abecedarians soon learn that martial arts have a spiritual as well as physical side Adjective an abecedarian approach to historical study

Word History



abecedary "alphabet book, primer" (going back to Middle English abscedary, borrowed from Medieval Latin abecedārium "alphabet, primer," derived from neuter of Late Latin abecedārius "alphabetical," from the names of the letters a + b + c + d + Latin -ārius -ary entry 2) + -an entry 1


abecedary "alphabet book, primer" + -an entry 2 — more at abecedarian entry 1

First Known Use


1603, in the meaning defined above


1732, in the meaning defined at sense 2

Time Traveler
The first known use of abecedarian was in 1603


Dictionary Entries Near abecedarian

Cite this Entry

“Abecedarian.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/abecedarian. Accessed 21 Apr. 2024.

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