alpha

noun
al·​pha | \ ˈal-fə How to pronounce alpha (audio) \

Definition of alpha

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : the 1st letter of the Greek alphabet — see Alphabet Table
2 : something that is first : beginning
5 : the first version of a product (such as a computer program) that is being developed and tested usually used before another noun alpha versionsalpha testing also : a stage of product development in which alpha prototypes are released a product that is available in alpha — compare beta

alpha

adjective

Definition of alpha (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : closest in the structure of an organic molecule to a particular group or atom symbol α α-substitution
2 : socially dominant especially in a group of animals an alpha male

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Examples of alpha in a Sentence

Noun money is not the alpha and omega—the beginning and end—of life's purpose
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun The same vaccine was 95% effective against the alpha variant. oregonlive, 11 Sep. 2021 Some of those infections occurred earlier in April, when the alpha variant of the virus was circulating widely. NBC News, 10 Sep. 2021 Before the highly contagious delta variant came along, the alpha variant was thought to be more transmissible than the 2020 strain of COVID-19. Dallas News, 8 Sep. 2021 Another 21% of the samples in this outbreak were identified as the alpha variant, which was dominant in the U.S. before the highly transmissible delta variant took over. Sarah Jacob, SELF, 3 Sep. 2021 The alpha variant of the coronavirus was the primary strain at the time of the findings, Styczynski said. Annie Vainshtein, San Francisco Chronicle, 1 Sep. 2021 The study was based on data from 8,682 COVID-19 patients in England who contracted the delta variant, and 34,656 with the alpha variant, between March 29 and May 23. Julie Mazziotta, PEOPLE.com, 30 Aug. 2021 The middle-of-the-road projection mirrors the spring 2021 surge in Michigan, when the B.1.1.7, or alpha variant, hit the state hard. Dave Boucher, Detroit Free Press, 30 Aug. 2021 The strains that account for the highest number of cases in Illinois are the alpha and delta variants. Nicole Stock, chicagotribune.com, 3 Sep. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective One of pre-alpha footage of a very, very early potential intro to the game, but three more were even more attention-grabbing. Paul Tassi, Forbes, 6 June 2021 The names of the Cadillac electric vehicles will be words not alpha-numeric, Reuss said. cleveland, 15 Feb. 2020 The names of the Cadillac electric vehicles will be words not alpha-numeric, Reuss said. cleveland, 15 Feb. 2020 By observing how well the Lyman-alpha light from these galaxies gets through, astronomers will measure how efficiently the first stars were able to transform the universe. Charlie Wood, Popular Science, 10 Jan. 2020 Definitely not the style of my alpha husband, who would enter purposefully with supplies or advice: That’s not the right tool. Amy Doyle, New York Times, 13 Mar. 2020 The names of the Cadillac electric vehicles will be words not alpha-numeric, Reuss said. cleveland, 15 Feb. 2020 The names of the Cadillac electric vehicles will be words not alpha-numeric, Reuss said. cleveland, 15 Feb. 2020 The names of the Cadillac electric vehicles will be words not alpha-numeric, Reuss said. Jamie L. Lareau, Detroit Free Press, 5 Feb. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'alpha.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of alpha

Noun

13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Adjective

1842, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for alpha

Noun

Middle English, from Latin, from Greek, of Semitic origin; akin to Hebrew āleph aleph

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Time Traveler for alpha

Time Traveler

The first known use of alpha was in the 13th century

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Dictionary Entries Near alpha

alpestrine

alpha

alpha-adrenergic

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Statistics for alpha

Last Updated

18 Sep 2021

Cite this Entry

“Alpha.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/alpha. Accessed 27 Sep. 2021.

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More Definitions for alpha

alpha

noun

English Language Learners Definition of alpha

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: the first letter of the Greek alphabet
: the first version of a product (such as a computer program) that is being developed and tested

alpha

adjective

English Language Learners Definition of alpha (Entry 2 of 2)

: having the most power in a group of animals or people

alpha

noun
al·​pha | \ ˈal-fə How to pronounce alpha (audio) \

Medical Definition of alpha

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : the 1st letter of the Greek alphabet symbol Α or α

alpha

adjective
variants: or α-

Medical Definition of alpha (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : of or relating to one of two or more closely related chemical substances the alpha chain of hemoglobin α-yohimbine used somewhat arbitrarily to specify ordinal relationship or a particular physical form, especially one that is allotropic, isomeric, stereoisomeric, or sometimes polymeric (as in α-D-glucose)
2 : closest in position in the structure of an organic molecule to a particular group or atom also : occurring at or having a structure characterized by such a position α-substitution

More from Merriam-Webster on alpha

Britannica English: Translation of alpha for Arabic Speakers

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