Definition of at in English:

at

Pronunciation /at//ət/

preposition

  • 1Expressing location or arrival in a particular place or position.

    ‘they live at Conway House’
    ‘they stopped at a small trattoria’
    • ‘Responsibility for providing services at the airport is shared between the airport and the airline.’
    • ‘She went back to her job as a teacher while I stayed at home with Louise.’
    • ‘He made his first professional stage appearance in George Bernard Shaw's ‘The Devil's Disciple’ at the Gaiety Theatre.’
    1. 1.1 Used in speech to indicate the sign @ in email addresses, separating the address holder's name from their location.
      • ‘Please send mail to zzsmith1 at strangemail dot net.’
  • 2Expressing the time when an event takes place.

    ‘the children go to bed at nine o'clock’
    ‘his death came at a time when the movement was split’
    • ‘In the United States, more than 10,000 retailers across the country are opening their doors at midnight tonight solely to sell copies of the game and accessories.’
    • ‘There will be a complete blackout tonight at eleven o'clock.’
    • ‘William appeared at half-past twelve.’
    1. 2.1 (followed by a noun without a determiner) denoting a particular period of time.
      ‘the sea is cooler at night’
      • ‘It is important that people going out in London can get home safely at night, by public transport, black cab or licensed minicab.’
      • ‘If you know of someone who is thinking of purchasing a rabbit at Easter, let them know it's a bad idea.’
      • ‘At Christmas we're always surrounded by lots of lovely food and drink.’
      • ‘Schools should lock children in at lunchtime to boost take-up of canteen meals, a catering expert claimed yesterday.’
    2. 2.2 (followed by a noun without a determiner) denoting the time spent by someone attending an educational institution or workplace.
      ‘it was at university that he first began to perform’
      • ‘It was at university that he became politically active.’
      • ‘It was at school that I began to play chess with my friend Brian.’
      no later than, in good time for, at, before
      View synonyms
  • 3Denoting a particular point or level on a scale.

    ‘prices start at £18,500’
    ‘driving at 50 mph’
    • ‘Prices start at £145 for 3 nights for 2 people for our winter weekends in Keeper's Cottage.’
    • ‘Water boils at one hundred degrees Celsius and at this point changes phase to become a gas, or steam.’
    • ‘Electrons move at a speed of a few kilometres per second through a circuit, whereas light travels at nearly 300,000 kilometres per second.’
    1. 3.1 Referring to someone's age.
      ‘at fourteen he began to work as a postman’
      • ‘Retirement at sixty-five is ridiculous.’
      • ‘At forty-five, he ran for the Senate and lost.’
      • ‘At twenty-one both males and females obtain their full legal rights, and become liable to all legal obligations.’
  • 4Expressing a particular state or condition.

    ‘his ready smile put her at ease’
    ‘they were at a disadvantage’
    • ‘People in lighter vehicles are at a disadvantage in collisions with heavier vehicles.’
    • ‘I could not be really happy or be at peace living like that.’
    • ‘That way I can record shows and listen to them at my leisure.’
    • ‘Candidates with exposure to international trade and two years of editorial/writing experience in the electronics/computer industry would be at an advantage.’
    1. 4.1 Expressing a relationship between an individual and a skill.
      ‘boxing was the only sport I was any good at’
      ‘she was getting much better at hiding her reactions’
      • ‘Women are said to be poor at reading maps.’
      • ‘You're still going to need to be really good at what you do just to accomplish that.’
      • ‘I was never any good at sports.’
  • 5Expressing the object of a look, thought, action, or plan.

    ‘I looked at my watch’
    ‘Leslie pointed at him’
    ‘policies aimed at reducing taxation’
    • ‘As he entered the clubhouse he glanced at the pictures of famous yachts that hang on the walls.’
    • ‘How old was your baby when she smiled at you for the first time?’
    • ‘A new credit card aimed at millions of low-income families is to charge interest at up to 70% - the highest ever charged by a credit card company.’
    • ‘At the same moment, they shone a torch at me to identify me.’
    1. 5.1 Expressing the target of a shot from a weapon.
      ‘they tore down the main street, firing at anyone in sight’
      • ‘Police arrested a man for allegedly shooting at another patron during a fight at a bar on State Street Tuesday evening.’
      • ‘The snipers were two individuals shooting randomly at anyone.’
    2. 5.2 Expressing an incomplete or attempted action, typically involving repeated movements.
      ‘she clutched at the thin gown’
      ‘he hit at her face with the gun’
      • ‘Briars and thorns tore at my legs.’
      • ‘An alert tabby cat saved an Australian family of four from a house fire by clawing at its owner's face.’
      • ‘A homeless man accused of trying to steal a hat at a convenience store battled three deputies in a brawl, grabbed at a deputy's handgun and had to be shocked with a stun gun twice before he was arrested, according to a Marion sheriff's report.’
  • 6Expressing the means by which something is done.

    ‘holding a prison officer at knifepoint’
    figurative ‘her pride had taken a beating at his hands’
    • ‘Our men are dying at the hands of enemies abroad and friends at home.’
    • ‘Two University of Minnesota students lost wallets, cash and cell phones, but otherwise were unhurt when they were robbed at gunpoint on campus Wednesday night, police said.’

Phrases

  • at it

    • Engaged in some activity, typically a reprehensible one.

      ‘the council is at it again, wanting to turn another green patch into a carpark’
      • ‘They were at it again in 2001 and have been doing it since the beginning of this year too.’
      • ‘While you're at it, it's a good idea to tackle cold frames as well, both inside and out.’
      • ‘That he is still at it must mean that Smith has either led a charmed life these past years or else he is made of steel.’
      • ‘I came outside and she was having a rough time at it, mostly because she had no idea what she was doing.’
      • ‘And could she not have done that while she was at it?’
  • at that

    • In addition; furthermore.

      ‘it was not fog but smoke, and very thick at that’
      • ‘So, the Tate is at least making an effort to display more art, and a big, expensive one at that.’
      • ‘We now live in a country where citizens can be executed without trial, and by a foreign government at that.’
      • ‘When she fell pregnant, Sara was hoping she would be having twins - and girls at that.’
      • ‘We are the kind of people, he thought, who buy their own furniture and second-hand at that.’
      • ‘Instead of thunder, the company had been struck by a need to change the cast, and no minor change at that.’
      • ‘She let out such a yelp and it was no wonder, as Tom had nothing on but a shirt and it wasn't too long at that!’
      • ‘No, this shore is not a destination for me; it is just a refuge, and a temporary one at that.’
      • ‘London looks set to receive a new evening paper soon, and a free one at that.’
      • ‘All a matter of opinion, of course, and in the cases of Randall and Morris, an educated opinion at that.’
      • ‘All the time a game of football was being played, and a pretty good one at that.’
  • where it's at

    • informal The focus of fashion or style.

      ‘building your own palace is where it's at’
      • ‘‘This is where it's at,’ said one of the prime minister's closest advisors.’
      • ‘It's understandable that the food police might object to an article suggesting that bread and potatoes are not where it's at.’
      • ‘The Department for Culture, Media and Sport has plenty of money to give out, but collecting and interpreting the artefacts of human history is just not where it's at.’
      • ‘As we used to say in the Sixties, wherever Zandra Rhodes is, is where it's at.’
      • ‘Presidents and dignitaries have worn his designs, but Iwan Tirta says home is really where it's at.’
      • ‘And they end up drinking the same drink, in the company of the same people, fondly imagining that because they moved through several pubs, this is really where it's at!’
      • ‘If everyone can be skinny, thin won't be in, but fat will start being where it's at.’
      • ‘Twisted denim is where it's at, for women and men.’
      • ‘Juice is good too, but water, baby, that's where it's at.’
      • ‘As nice as it is to be liked by your home country, to Canadians, international success is where it's at.’
      • ‘What we are doing is we are going with the youth; we are going with the people who know where it's at.’
      • ‘Italian markets really are where it's at because everything is seasonal and it's mostly organic.’
      • ‘Everyone is talking about California - it's so where it's at, I think.’
      • ‘But locals here realize that tourism is where it's at for them.’
      • ‘I'm a huge, huge fan of festivals, so that's where it's at for me this summer.’
      • ‘If you prefer loafers or moccasins, you'll also have a chance to prove your fashion sense this summer, but sandals are really where it's at.’
      • ‘Europe is where it's at, home of the UEFA Champions' League, a powerbase for the game globally, and a workplace for the planet's most talented players.’
      • ‘All things Norwegian seem to be where it's at at the minute.’
      • ‘There is evidence, though, that the young have become so seduced by the celebrity culture that their only ambition is to be famous and that working for a living is not where it's at.’
      • ‘There are a lot of clues pointing you in the right direction, but nobody just tells you where it's at.’
      • ‘Celebrating all things multidisciplinary, the first ever Vasistas festival is here to show us all that multi-tasking art is where it's at.’
  • where someone is at

    • informal Someone's true or fundamental nature or character.

      ‘I think we've got enough information to have an idea of where he's at’
      • ‘The first bit is exactly where my thinking is at.’
      • ‘This is Rethel's most precise determination of who and where he is at that moment.’
      • ‘So that's where my head is at these days.’

Origin

Old English æt, of Germanic origin; related to Old Frisian et and Old Norse at, from an Indo-European root shared by Latin ad ‘to’.

Pronunciation

at

/at//ət/