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’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Responsibility for providing services at the airport is shared between the airport and the airline.’
    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’
    • ‘There will be a complete blackout tonight at eleven o'clock.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
      • ‘Schools should lock children in at lunchtime to boost take-up of canteen meals, a catering expert claimed yesterday.’
      • ‘At Christmas we're always surrounded by lots of lovely food and drink.’
    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’
    • ‘Electrons move at a speed of a few kilometres per second through a circuit, whereas light travels at nearly 300,000 kilometres per second.’
    • ‘Water boils at one hundred degrees Celsius and at this point changes phase to become a gas, or steam.’
    • ‘Prices start at £145 for 3 nights for 2 people for our winter weekends in Keeper's Cottage.’
    1. 3.1 Referring to someone's age:
      ‘at fourteen he began to work as a postman’
      • ‘At twenty-one both males and females obtain their full legal rights, and become liable to all legal obligations.’
      • ‘Retirement at sixty-five is ridiculous.’
      • ‘At forty-five, he ran for the Senate and lost.’
  • 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.’
    • ‘That way I can record shows and listen to them at my leisure.’
    • ‘I could not be really happy or be at peace living like that.’
    • ‘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’
    • ‘How old was your baby when she smiled at you for the first time?’
    • ‘As he entered the clubhouse he glanced at the pictures of famous yachts that hang on the walls.’
    • ‘At the same moment, they shone a torch at me to identify me.’
    • ‘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.’
    1. 5.1 Expressing the target of a shot from a weapon:
      ‘they tore down the main street, firing at anyone in sight’
      • ‘The snipers were two individuals shooting randomly at anyone.’
      • ‘Police arrested a man for allegedly shooting at another patron during a fight at a bar on State Street Tuesday evening.’
    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’
      • ‘An alert tabby cat saved an Australian family of four from a house fire by clawing at its owner's face.’
      • ‘Briars and thorns tore at my legs.’
      • ‘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 all

    • 1[with negative or in questions](used for emphasis) in any way; to any extent:

      ‘I don't like him at all’
      • ‘Most of us would probably want to stay in bed if at all possible and give advice over the phone.’
      • ‘One of them is poor to the extent that their parent cannot afford to support them at all.’
      • ‘She works full time and if she has children at all it will be as late as possible.’
      • ‘I don't think that the government will change at all.’
      • ‘The criticism really wasn't accurate at all.’
      • ‘There were eight children and no groceries, no money to buy soap, no money to buy anything at all.’
      • ‘He added that people had been advised to avoid the Ashchurch area if at all possible.’
      • ‘They have no principles, at all.’
      conceivably, under any circumstances, by any means, at all, in any way
      View synonyms
      1. 1.1Irish Added at the end of an utterance for emphasis:
        ‘what is the matter with you at all?’
        • ‘What kind of man is he, at all, at all?’
        • ‘How is he at all at all?’
        at all, in any way, on earth
        View synonyms
  • at first

    • At the beginning; in the initial stage or stages:

      ‘at first Hugo tried to be patient’
      • ‘We were a bit dubious about doing the programme at first, but we really enjoyed making it.’
      • ‘He was fine at first then complained about not feeling well and went back to bed.’
      • ‘It can be a bit daunting at first but once they get started and have a go they really enjoy it and learn quickly.’
      • ‘He was struck by the car as he walked home from a wedding, and at first it was feared he might not survive.’
      • ‘She's the daughter of an opera singer, and at first she didn't want to go into opera.’
      • ‘The guy was reluctant at first and refused to come with me, but I could tell he needed my help.’
      • ‘You do have to be a bit of a contortionist at first to engage gear, but it is a sportsbike after all.’
      • ‘The driver had not wanted to take him at first because he was so drunk he had to be supported by three women.’
      • ‘He seemed a bit nervous at first but soon settled and gave his usual comic performance.’
      • ‘It was difficult to get funding at first but now there is a consortium of people who have put money into it.’
      at first, to begin with, at the beginning, at the start, first of all, at the outset, initially
      View synonyms
  • 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’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘And could she not have done that while she was at it?’
      • ‘I came outside and she was having a rough time at it, mostly because she had no idea what she was doing.’
      • ‘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.’
  • at last

    • In the end; after much delay:

      ‘you've come back to me at last!’
      • ‘So I suspect this is one thing that we might get some information on, at long last.’
      • ‘Coupled with the power in your house of partners, it's clear you are at last ready to settle down.’
      • ‘In the past few weeks, I have, at last, mastered the video, just as it's on its way out.’
      • ‘John sent back some of his first earnings from Germany to Mimi, proud that he could help her at last.’
      • ‘The second reason why I have confidence about the future is that, at long last, sponsors are taking a stand.’
      • ‘Finally, at long last, much surfing on the net brought me to a site that had my mystery plant.’
      • ‘Swindon looks set to gain a new central library at long last.’
      • ‘It is good to know, at long last, that the party is ready to drop the pretence and face reality.’
      • ‘Yes it's excellently written and great at last to see a soap invented by a gay man finally able tell it like it is.’
      • ‘Tired but home at last, the kid jumps out of the car and gently rubs his face.’
      finally, in the end, eventually, ultimately, at long last, after a long time, after a considerable time, in time, at the end of the day, in the fullness of time
      lastly, in conclusion
      View synonyms
  • at least

    • 1Not less than; at the minimum:

      ‘clean the windows at least once a week’
      • ‘Truth, or at least the whole truth and nothing but the truth, seems way down the list.’
      • ‘It would appear that if you know at least one full line from a play, you can probably find it online.’
      • ‘Petunias are easy to grow so long as they are in full sun for at least part of the day.’
      • ‘No one could cheat by swallowing anything whole because we had to chew it all at least five times.’
      • ‘I see many blokes my age around, carrying at least as much weight and full of vim and vigour.’
      • ‘He knows what he wants and hopefully he will be allowed at least a full season to put matters straight.’
      • ‘On the whole, though, they can at least be expected to grow along with the economy.’
      • ‘This needs at least four minutes' brewing time to reveal its full array of flavours.’
      • ‘They were blocking every exit, and Whitehall had at least ten vans full of officers.’
      • ‘It seemed that our lives then had been happy indeed, or at least, full of hope and content.’
      at the minimum, no less than, not less than
      as a conservative estimate, at rock-bottom
      more than
      View synonyms
    • 2If nothing else (used to add a positive comment about a generally negative situation):

      ‘the options aren't complete, but at least they're a start’
      • ‘Basically, I was going to be in hell for a whole month or at least until I found a new job.’
      • ‘What this means is that the relationship is not going anywhere, at least not in a positive way.’
      • ‘Not a plan for action, certainly, but at least a creative push in a positive direction.’
      • ‘The consensus among the Elders is that no one would believe you anyway, or at least not many.’
      • ‘He is also keen to rescue James from his detractors, or at least to give us the whole picture.’
      • ‘You might be bored stupid and your boss may be a complete cretin, but at least your office is dry.’
    • 3Anyway (used to modify something just stated):

      ‘they seldom complained—officially at least’
  • at most

  • at once

    • 1Immediately:

      ‘I fell asleep at once’
      • ‘In most companies, employees have got used to going back to work at once after lunch.’
      • ‘Anyone with concerns is asked to contact their nearest health centre at once.’
      • ‘The call goes to Birkenshaw who have files on all the area and can direct a fire crew to me at once.’
      • ‘There would have been every reason for them to have made such facts public at once.’
      • ‘Mr Lane urged any parents who have concerns about the disease to seek medical help at once.’
      • ‘When using oil, the mixture should be combined as quickly as possible, then baked at once.’
      • ‘If it is broken it must be used at once, for it discolours and spoils quickly.’
      • ‘Campaigners fighting to keep homes for the elderly open urged the Council to spend the pot of cash at once.’
      • ‘Dust the soufflés with icing sugar and serve at once with the chocolate sauce and fresh berries.’
      • ‘He had seen his future wife Nancy when she was only 13 and decided at once that she was the only girl for him.’
      immediately, right away, right now, this instant, this minute, this moment, this second, now, straight away, instantly, instantaneously, directly, suddenly, abruptly, summarily, forthwith, promptly, without delay, without hesitation, without further ado
      View synonyms
    • 2At the same time; simultaneously:

      ‘computers that can do many things at once’
      • ‘Fast bowlers are a bit like buses, none for ages and then two come along at once.’
      • ‘The months seem to be slipping by very quickly now, and I'm working on two issues at once at the moment.’
      • ‘A few trains arrived at once and all of a sudden thousands swarmed the exit all pushing and miserable.’
      • ‘Everything is happening at once at the moment, in a manner that is proving really rather hard to deal with.’
      • ‘A mean, penetrating rain, the type that comes at you from all directions at once.’
      • ‘In the low light of the gallery the effect is at once beautiful and rather ominous.’
      • ‘Most games that try to do a lot of things at once fall apart at the seams, so both of these are something special.’
      • ‘Blogger has suddenly started emailing me comments again so they all arrived at once.’
      • ‘There was a slow churning of his thought processes as two ideas came together at once.’
      • ‘He's trying to do his job but he can't be everywhere and see everything at once.’
      at the same time, at one and the same time, at the same instant, at the same moment, simultaneously
      View synonyms
  • at that

    • In addition; furthermore:

      ‘it was not fog but smoke, and very thick at that’
      • ‘No, this shore is not a destination for me; it is just a refuge, and a temporary one at that.’
      • ‘When she fell pregnant, Sara was hoping she would be having twins - and girls at that.’
      • ‘All a matter of opinion, of course, and in the cases of Randall and Morris, an educated opinion at that.’
      • ‘London looks set to receive a new evening paper soon, and a free one at that.’
      • ‘Instead of thunder, the company had been struck by a need to change the cast, and no minor change at that.’
      • ‘All the time a game of football was being played, and a pretty good one 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!’
      • ‘We now live in a country where citizens can be executed without trial, and by a foreign government at that.’
      • ‘We are the kind of people, he thought, who buy their own furniture and second-hand at that.’
      • ‘So, the Tate is at least making an effort to display more art, and a big, expensive one at that.’
  • where it's at

    • informal The focus of fashion or style:

      ‘building your own palace is 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!’
      • ‘All things Norwegian seem to be where it's at at the minute.’
      • ‘As nice as it is to be liked by your home country, to Canadians, international success is 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.’
      • ‘Everyone is talking about California - it's so where it's at, I think.’
      • ‘Italian markets really are where it's at because everything is seasonal and it's mostly organic.’
      • ‘Twisted denim is where it's at, for women and men.’
      • ‘I'm a huge, huge fan of festivals, so that's where it's at for me this summer.’
      • ‘What we are doing is we are going with the youth; we are going with the people who know where it's at.’
      • ‘It's understandable that the food police might object to an article suggesting that bread and potatoes are not 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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘If everyone can be skinny, thin won't be in, but fat will start being where it's at.’
      • ‘Juice is good too, but water, baby, that's where it's at.’
      • ‘But locals here realize that tourism is where it's at for them.’
      • ‘‘This is where it's at,’ said one of the prime minister's closest advisors.’
      • ‘As we used to say in the Sixties, wherever Zandra Rhodes is, is 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.’
      • ‘Presidents and dignitaries have worn his designs, but Iwan Tirta says home is really where it's at.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘So that's where my head is at these days.’
      • ‘This is Rethel's most precise determination of who and where he is at that moment.’

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/