Meaning of alpha

al•pha

Pronunciation: (al'fu), [key]
— n.
  1. the first letter of the Greek alphabet (A, &agr;).
  2. the vowel sound represented by this letter.
  3. the first; beginning.
  4. (cap.)used to designate the brightest star in a constellation.
  5. one of two or more isomeric compounds.
  6. the first in a series of related items: frequently used in chemistry and physics.
  7. a mark or grade corresponding to an A. Cf. beta (def. 8),(def. 9).
—adj.
  1. (esp. of animals) having the highest rank of its sex in a dominance hierarchy: the alpha female.
  2. pertaining or linked to the carbon atom closest to a particular group in an organic molecule.
Random House Unabridged Dictionary, Copyright © 1997, by Random House, Inc., on Infoplease.
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