Definition of alphabet in English:



  • 1A set of letters or symbols in a fixed order, used to represent the basic sounds of a language; in particular, the set of letters from A to Z.

    • ‘Castle painstakingly inked real and altered alphabets; alphabets that look letterpressed, so finely are they executed.’
    • ‘These deals allowed Asians to use their own languages and alphabets, rather than numbers or English, when surfing the web.’
    • ‘In two or three months, all you get is a brief idea of the alphabet of a language.’
    • ‘If we assign numerical values to the alphabet in order, the letters HUM added together would yield 42.’
    • ‘The odd bit is that English is harder to read than any other language using the alphabet.’
    • ‘The phonetic alphabet is almost as hard to master as the new language itself.’
    • ‘Modern scientific studies find that only the brain's left hemisphere is active in speaking foreign languages made up of alphabets.’
    • ‘For the present we are concentrating on ciphers where the basic symbols are the letters of the English alphabet.’
    • ‘We created fonts for the alphabets of both languages so that the letters were defined using the same basic components (vertical, diagonal, and horizontal lines).’
    • ‘When learning to read, many preschool age children recognize letters in alphabets (or characters in non alphabet languages) long before they are able to read.’
    • ‘Mrs Sulley taught me the letters of the alphabet and the sounds they represented.’
    • ‘Thai is a tonal language, and its alphabet is derived from Mon and Khmer scripts.’
    • ‘Languages have alphabets, or character repertoires, but computers deal with digits.’
    • ‘The flags are held, arms extended, in various positions representing each of the letters of the alphabet or numbers.’
    • ‘Different languages have different alphabets; different cultures use different calendars.’
    • ‘The curve of the exterior wall is dressed in gray granite on which the alphabets, hieroglyphs and symbols of over 120 languages are etched.’
    • ‘I used to try and cram the whole twenty-four letter alphabet into one little symbol.’
    • ‘Did I know that the place has not only its own language but its own alphabet?’
    • ‘Czech is one of a group of Slavic languages that use the Roman rather than the Cyrillic alphabet.’
    • ‘Chinese does not have an alphabet, but characters representing words, formed from stokes symbolising syllables.’
    abc, letters
    symbols, icons, writing system, syllabary
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1The basic elements in a system that combine to form complex entities.
      ‘DNA's 4-letter alphabet’
      • ‘This is the musical alphabet from which the language of music ultimately is derived.’
      • ‘Thuriam's Medical coding consists of combination of numbers and alphabets adhering to different coding standards.’
      • ‘A four-letter alphabet might seem a rather limited system for writing complex messages.’
      • ‘Female nudes that appear repeatedly in his works, both paintings and sculptures, are not erotic; they are alphabets for a powerful political statement.’
      • ‘Each cell is blank or contains one symbol from a finite alphabet of symbols.’


Early 16th century: from late Latin alphabetum, from Greek alpha, bēta, the first two letters of the Greek alphabet.