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 nounalpha 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 αα-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 While the game is still in its early stages as an alpha, the defending CDL champions were able to recognize what Cold War could bring. Sean Collins, Dallas News, "‘Crimsix,’ Dallas Empire share first impressions of Call of Duty’s ‘Cold War’," 9 Sep. 2020 Try an exfoliating gel mask with alpha-hydroxy acids that refreshes your skin in minutes. Megan Deem, Better Homes & Gardens, "The Ultimate 4-Step Facial You Can Do at Home," 4 Sep. 2020 Excess deposits of the protein alpha-synuclein, known as Lewy bodies, clump up inside neurons, causing damage to certain parts of the brain and, as a result, a decline in cognition and movement. Jayme Deerwester, USA TODAY, "What is Lewy body dementia, the disease Robin Williams' widow called 'the terrorist' inside his brain?," 2 Sep. 2020 Aside from the association with Lewy bodies — those abnormal accumulations of the protein alpha-synuclein in the brain — the exact cause of LBD is unknown. Kristen Rogers, CNN, "Lewy body dementia: The life-changing disease that devastated Robin Williams," 1 Sep. 2020 An alpha version was shown during a livestream of the charity event Desert Bus for Hope in November 2019. Rachel Chang, Travel + Leisure, "Miss Flying? The New Video Game ‘Airplane Mode’ Lets You Recreate the Experience," 31 Aug. 2020 Other pheromones are slower acting: the molecule alpha-farnesene in male mouse urine has been found to accelerate puberty in young female mice. Alex Fox, Smithsonian Magazine, "For Male Lemurs, Love Stinks—and Scientists Now Know Why," 20 Apr. 2020 Schechter describes DiceKeys as still in alpha testing, and its security for now isn't perfect. Andy Greenberg, Wired, "‘DiceKeys’ Creates a Master Password for Life With One Roll," 21 Aug. 2020 But an alpha, Kyle is not… Garcelle on the other hand? Jodi Walker, EW.com, "The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills," 20 Aug. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective The names of the Cadillac electric vehicles will be words not alpha-numeric, Reuss said. cleveland, "Here are GM’s plans to make the GMC Hummer pickup a top seller," 15 Feb. 2020 The names of the Cadillac electric vehicles will be words not alpha-numeric, Reuss said. cleveland, "Here are GM’s plans to make the GMC Hummer pickup a top seller," 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, "Young galaxies transformed the early universe by blowing bubbles," 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, "The Gift of Silence, When There Are No Words," 13 Mar. 2020 The names of the Cadillac electric vehicles will be words not alpha-numeric, Reuss said. cleveland, "Here are GM’s plans to make the GMC Hummer pickup a top seller," 15 Feb. 2020 The names of the Cadillac electric vehicles will be words not alpha-numeric, Reuss said. cleveland, "Here are GM’s plans to make the GMC Hummer pickup a top seller," 15 Feb. 2020 The names of the Cadillac electric vehicles will be words not alpha-numeric, Reuss said. Jamie L. Lareau, Detroit Free Press, "Here are GM's plans to make the GMC Hummer pickup a top seller," 5 Feb. 2020 Bryant and O’Neal had an inevitable falling-out: not even L.A.’s sprawl could contain those two alpha egos. Sean Gregory, Time, "'He Was Going to Do Great Things.' Why Many Believed the Best Was Ahead of Kobe Bryant," 30 Jan. 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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Statistics for alpha

Last Updated

17 Sep 2020

Cite this Entry

“Alpha.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/alpha. Accessed 26 Sep. 2020.

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More Definitions for alpha

alpha

noun
How to pronounce alpha (audio)

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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