A (a or a), the first letter in nearly every alphabet in the world, the chief exceptions being the Old Germanic (Runic), where it stood in the fourth place, and the Ethiopic, where it is the thirteenth letter. It was possibly in its earlier form a Dictograph, representing an ox's head; but recent research has made this doubtful.
(a), indef. art. (contraction of on), one; any: used before words beginning with a consonant or the aspirate h.
aback (a-bak'), adv. backward; pressed back against the mast: said of sails; by surprise.
abacus (ab'a-kus), n. a contrivance of beads or balls strung upon rods or wires: used for arithmetical computation by the Chinese, and called by them swanpan. The abacus was probably at first developed from the ten digits of the human hand, which was a natural counting-board, the slab crowning a column or pillar.
abaft (a-baff), adv. & prep, at, towards, or in the direction of the stern of a ship; astern.
abaiser (a-b5'ser), n. bone black, also called animal black. It is used in refining petroleum.
abandon (a-ban'dun), r.t. to give up; desert or forsake utterly; give up all claim to; yield one's self: n. unrestraint; freedom of manner. [French.]
abandoned (a-ban'dund), adj. given up entirely: shamelessly profligate.
abandonment (a-ban'dun-ment), n. the act of abandoning; the state of being abandoned; freedom from restraint.
a has (a ba'), down with. [French.]
abase (a-bas'), ''' to humble or degrade; debase morally; dishonor.
abasement (a-bas'ment), n. the act of abasing or humiliating.
abash (a-bash'), v.t. to put to confusion; confound or make ashamed by consciousness of guilt or error.
abatable (a-ba'ta-bl), adj. that may be abated.
abate (a-bat'), v.t. to lessen; suppress: v.i. to decrease; moderate.
abatement (a-bat'ment), n. the act of abating; the state of being abated; diminution; the amount by which a sum or quantity is reduced.
abatis, abattls (English ab'a-tis; French a-ba-te'), n. a barricade composed of felled trees with the branches pointing outward; especially intended to repel cavalry.
abattoir (a-bat-twar'), n. a public slaughter-house. [French.]
abb (ab), n. the yarn of the warp in weaving.
abbacy (ab'a-si), n. the office and jurisdiction of an abbot.
abb«- (a-bS'). n. an ecclesiastic devoted to literature. [French.]
abbess (ab'es), n. the lady-superior of a convent or nunnery.
abbey (ab'i), n. [pi. abbeys (ab'biz)], an establishment for religious devotees of either sex, renounced to celibacy and seclusion from the world.
abbot (ab'ut), n. the male superior or head of an abbey.
abbreviate (ab-bre'vi-at), v.t. to shorten, as by contraction of a word, or the omission of words in a sentence; reduce the quantity to its lowest terms.
abbreviation (ab-bre-vi-a'shun), n. the act of shortening or abbreviating; the state of being abbreviated; the word, phrase, or title so contracted, as M.D. for Doctor of Medicine.
abbreviator (ab-bre'vi-a-ter), n. one who shortens or abbreviates.
abbreviature (ab-bre'vi-a-tur), n. the sign, letter, or character used for
ite, arm, at, awl; me, me'rge, met; mite, mit; note, north, not; boon, book;
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