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

But a 45-minute hands-on demo with WDL's E3 alpha version filled in a few gaps on what to expect when the game launches on March 6, 2020. Sam Machkovech, Ars Technica, "Watch Dogs Legion gameplay premiere: Taking the “N” out of “NPC”," 10 June 2019 The link is a protein called alpha-synuclein, which can build up in the brain and kill brain cells in the area responsible for keeping that paralysis turned on, says Dr. Mindel. Cassie Shortsleeve, SELF, "9 Types of Parasomnias That Might Explain That Weird Thing You Do When You Sleep," 5 June 2019 And this year, a couple of the alpha predators have disappeared. Timothy J. Burger, Town & Country, "What's the Point of the White House Correspondents' Dinner if the President Doesn't Show Up?," 31 Mar. 2017 Ubisoft also showed off some brief game footage from a pre-pre-pre-alpha build or whatever, but kept the camera pulled back seemingly so nobody could really get a good look at it on-stream. Brad Chacos, PCWorld, "Ubisoft's E3 reveals: Assassin's Creed: Odyssey, Division 2, Beyond Good & Evil 2, and more," 11 June 2018 In addition to the Clear + Brilliant laser, Dr. Neil Sadick, a dermatologist in New York, reccomends a chemical peel with alpha-hydroxy acids and a skincare regimen with skin-brightening ingredients like kojic acid or a hydroquinone derivative. Jenna Rosenstein, Harper's BAZAAR, "The Anti-Aging Guide for Lips," 6 Nov. 2018 But the gulf between the alpha dogs and the pack seemingly has never been this wide. Jonathan Clegg, WSJ, "The English Premier League Has a Manchester City Problem," 9 Aug. 2018 Try a single-use wipe like First Aid Beauty Facial Radiance Pads, which contain two kinds of alpha-hydroxy acids at levels that are safe for sensitive skin. Paige Stables, Good Housekeeping, "9 Sneaky Reasons Why Your Skin Looks Dull," 12 Oct. 2017 In the four, rotating the field effected their brain's alpha frequency, known as an α frequency. David Grossman, Popular Mechanics, "Some Humans Can Detect the Earth's Magnetic Field," 19 Mar. 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

In a brief chat with Ars, Soulstorm Executive Producer Bennie Terry III revealed that the game (and its explosions and alpha effects) has been scaled with current-gen console performance in mind. Sam Machkovech, Ars Technica, "Oddworld: Soulstorm gameplay: Abe’s old-school return is a beautiful thing," 6 June 2019 More young talent is needed, but so is a nasty, alpha-type player who can set the tone up front and ease the burden on the secondary and linebackers. 2. Terez A. Paylor, kansascity, "Here are the Chiefs’ five biggest needs heading into next season | The Kansas City Star," 9 Mar. 2018 The enormous clouds emit large amounts of ultraviolet light with a spectral line produced by hydrogen ions, known as a Lyman-alpha line. Jay Bennett, Popular Mechanics, "Giant Glowing Space Blob's Power Source Discovered," 21 Sep. 2016 Actress Sydelle Noel embodies a similar ethos by taking on brawny, brassy, alpha woman roles. Abby Haglage, refinery29.com, "4 Black Girls With Big Dreams & The 4 Women Living Them," 13 July 2018 As the alpha brother, Romeo, wild, fun and charmingly manipulative, Pucci is transformed by a long, blond beard. Katie Walsh, latimes.com, "Review: Lou Taylor Pucci enlivens wild and wooly 'Poor Boy'," 12 July 2018 To combat those slips, the platform is adding visibility tools through a new feature, still in alpha testing, called Cloud Security Command Center. Lily Hay Newman, WIRED, "Google's Fix For the Gaffe Behind So Many Data Leaks," 21 Mar. 2018 He’s been surrounded all his life by alpha women — his late mother was a screaming, hard-drinking firecracker of a woman. New York Times, "Josh Brolin Fears the Summer of Josh Brolin," 20 June 2018 For state officials, a particular source of concern was alpha contamination, which was also found in some of the dust collected in previous years for Kaltofen’s study. Hal Bernton, The Seattle Times, "Study: Traces of radioactive contamination found in homes of six Hanford workers," 14 June 2018

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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Statistics for alpha

Last Updated

16 Jun 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for alpha

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

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More Definitions for alpha

alpha

noun

Financial Definition of alpha

What It Is

The definition of alpha on InvestingAnswersAlpha, also known as "excess return" or "abnormal rate of return," is one of the most widely used measures of risk-adjusted performance. The number shows how much better or worse a fund performed relative to a benchmark. This difference is then attributed to the decisions made by the fund's management.

How It Works

Let's assume you are a portfolio manager who expects your client's portfolio to return 15% next year. The year goes by and the portfolio actually returns 16%. In its most basic sense, the alpha of the portfolio = 16% - 15% = 1%.

Mathematically speaking, alpha is the rate of return that exceeds what was expected or predicted by models like the capital asset pricing model (CAPM). To understand how it works, consider the CAPM formula:

r   =   Rf  + beta * (Rm - Rf )   +   alpha

where:
r = the security's or portfolio's return
Rf  = the risk-free rate of return
beta = the security's or portfolio's price volatility relative to the overall market
Rm  = the market return

The main part of the CAPM formula (except the excess-return factor) calculates what the rate of return on a certain security or portfolio ought to be under certain market conditions. Note that two similar portfolios might carry the same amount of risk (same beta) but because of different alphas, it's possible for one to generate higher returns than the other. This is a fundamental quandary for investors, who always want the highest return for the least amount of risk.

Why It Matters

The fundamental quandary for investors of how get the highest return possible for the least amount of risk can be measured by alpha. It is a measurable way to determine whether a manager's skill has added value to a fund on a risk-adjusted basis.

The very existence of alpha is controversial, however, because those who believe in the efficient market hypothesis (which says, among other things, that it is impossible to beat the market) attribute alpha to luck instead of skill, and base this belief on the fact that most managers fail to beat the market over the long-term.

Source: Investing Answers

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

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for alpha

Britannica English: Translation of alpha for Arabic Speakers

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