The Alternative English Dictionary: -a

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Entry definition

-a
etymology 1 From the homographic endings of the nominative, accusative, and vocative forms of numerous Latin nouns. pronunciation
  • (RP) /ɑ/, /ə/
  • (GenAm) /ɑ/, /ə/
suffix: {{head}}
  1. plural of -um
  2. plural of -on
  • Whereas the regular pluralization in English involves adding -s or -es, English words derived from a Latin/Greek where the Latin/Greek would pluralize from -on (Greek) or -um (Latin) to -a do not always do so. Usage of -a instead of -s differs between words: sometimes the two are interchangeable (e.g. memorandums/memoranda, polyhedrons/polyhedra), sometimes one is far more common than the other (e.g. neurons over neura, automata over automatons), and sometimes one is completely absent from usage (e.g. bacteria over bacteriums, dendrons over dendra)
etymology 2 Possibly due to the propensity in some non-rhotic dialects to pronounce words ending in -er as if they ended in an -a. pronunciation
  • (GenAm) /æ/
  • (RP) /æ/
suffix: {{en-suffix}}
  1. (Northern England) Same as -er in Standard English. me fatha was a corka burna doon the shipyard — “My father was a corker burner at the shipyard.”
  2. (Black English and slang) Used to replace -er in nouns. gangsta — “gangster” brotha — “brother”
etymology 3 Representing the nominative singular case ending of Latin feminine nouns. pronunciation
  • (RP) {{enPR}}, /ə/
  • (GenAm) /ə/
suffix: {{head}}
  1. Marks singular nouns, with a foundation in Greek or Latin, often implying femininity, especially when contrasted with words terminating in -us.
Synonyms: -ess, -ette, -euse, -or, -rix, she-
etymology 4 From Latin -a. pronunciation
  • (RP) /ə/
  • (GenAm) /ə/
suffix: {{en-suffix}}
  1. Changes an element or substance into an oxide. magnesia
etymology 5 Shortened version of verb have. pronunciation
  • (RP) /ə/
  • (GenAm) /ə/
suffix: {{en-suffix}}
  1. (slang) alternative form of -'ve
etymology 6 Representing Italian, Portuguese, and Spanish feminine nouns. pronunciation
  • (RP) /ə/
  • (GenAm) /ə/
suffix: {{en-suffix}}
  1. Marks nouns, with a foundation in Italian, Spanish, or Portuguese, implying femininity.
etymology 7 Added to lines of poetry and verse to maintain metrics. pronunciation
  • (RP) /ə/
  • (GenAm) /ə/
suffix: {{en-suffix}}
  1. Added for metrical reasons to poetry and verse
etymology 8 Shortened version of preposition of. pronunciation
  • (RP) /ə/
  • (GenAm) /ə/
suffix: {{en-suffix}}
  1. (slang) form of clitic form
etymology 9 Shortened version of verb to. pronunciation
  • (RP) /ə/
  • (GenAm) /ə/
suffix: {{en-suffix}}
  1. (informal) To. oughta

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