From the second edition (1989):

the first letter of the Roman Alphabet, and of its various subsequent modifications (as were its prototypes Alpha of the Greek, and Aleph of the Phœnician and old Hebrew); representing originally in English, as in Latin, the ‘low-back-wide’ vowel, formed with the widest opening of jaws, pharynx, and lips. The plural has been written aes, A's, As. from A to Z: see Z 3.

c1340 Hampole Pr. Consc. 481 And by þat cry men knaw þan Whether it be man or weman, For when it es born it cryes swa. If it be man it says a! a! That þe first letter is of þe nam Of our forme-fader Adam. c1386 Chaucer Prol. 161 On which was first i-write a crowned A, And after, Amor vincit omnia. 1401 Pol. Poems II. 57 I know not an a [[Abarab]] from the wynd-mylne, ne a b [B] from a bole-foot. 1678 Butler Hudib. iii. i. 1006 And loue your Loues with A's and B's. 1765 Tucker Light of Nat. ii. 89 Tully tells us, a hog has been known to make a perfect letter A with his snout upon the ground; but nobody ever saw, or thought it possible to see, the whole poem of Ennius scratched out in that manner: and I believe he might have added safely, that no man ever saw a single A written by a hog, without a multitude of other irregular scratches round about it. a1842 Tennyson Epic 50 Mouthing out his hollow oes and aes, Deep-chested music.

The sounds now represented by A are thus symbolized in this work:—
1. (eɪ)in name(neɪm)
2. (ɛə)in bare(bɛə(r))
3. (æ)in man(mæn)
4. (ɑː)in father(ˈfɑːðə(r))
5. (ɔː)in water(ˈwɔːtə(r))
6. (ɒ)in want(wɒnt)

The vowel in chant, past, varies with different speakers from 3 to 4.

1 and 2 are also commonly represented by the digraphs ai, ay, as in pain, pay, pair (peɪn, peɪ, pɛə(r)); and 5 by au, aw, as in laud, law (lɔːd, lɔː). Ai, ay rarely represent a diphthong (aɪ), as in ay, Isaiah (aɪ, aɪˈzaɪə); au is a diphthong (aʊ) only in foreign words.

In unaccented syllables these vowels are modified, and obscured; thus:—
7. (ɪ)in village, marriage(ˈvɪlɪdʒ, ˈmærɪdʒ)
8. (ɪ/ə)in separate, adj.(ˈsɛpərət, -ɪt)
9. (ə)in lunar, amœba(ˈluːnə(r), əˈmiːbə)

In rapid utterance the ə may become a mere voice glide, or entirely disappear, as separate adj. (ˈsɛpərət, ˈsɛp(ə)rət, ˈsɛprət). These phonetic variations in actual speech are reflected in variant spellings like mackarel, mackerel, mackrel; abanet, abnet; caravel, carvel; Catharine, Catherine, Cathrine; dependant, dependent; and common ‘mistakes’ in spelling, such as seperate.

II. The letters of the alphabet, or some of them, are also used to indicate serial order and distinguish things in a series, as the notes of the musical scale, the ‘quires’ or sheets of a book, classes of ships, propositions in logic, quantities in algebra, points, and hence lines and figures in geometry. As the order is in some cases fixed, A or a has some specialized uses:

1. In Music: The 6th note of the diatonic scale of C major, or the first note of the relative minor scale of C, corresponding to la in the Tonic Sol-fa notation. Also, the scale of a composition with A as its key-note; as ‘a symphony in A’.

1609 Douland Ornith. Microl. 22 In the first part set A Base, in the third D sol re, in the fifth A lamire. 1806 J. W. Callcott Gramm. of Music The notes of Music are named from the first seven letters of the alphabet, A, B, C, D, E, F, G. When the Melody, or Tune, exceeds these seven, the same series of letters must be repeated. 1880 Grove Dict. Mus. I. 192 The beautiful and passionate Sonata in A which was inspired by and dedicated to his [Beethoven's] friend Madame Ertmann.

2. In Nautical language: see A1 below.

3. In Logic: a universal affirmative.

1866 Mansel (in Bowen Logic 201) A is declared by Aristotle to be the most difficult proposition to establish, and the easiest to overthrow.

4. In Abstract reasoning, hypothetical argumentation, Law, etc. A means any one thing or person, B another, C a third, etc.; as, A becomes surety to B for C; C fails in his engagements, on which B, etc.

1870 Bowen Logic iii. 49 Every conceivable thing is either A or not-A. Of course A and not-A, taken together, include the universe.

5. In Algebra: a, b, c, and other early letters of the alphabet are used to express known quantities, as x, y, z are to express the unknown.

6. Designating a first-class road.

1921 Autocar 29 Oct. 829/2 Those roads, however, which have already received numbers are all of the first, or A, category and it is by no means probable that their numbers will suffer any change after once being fixed.‥ Six boundary roads radiating from London are taken as the basis. Road A1 is that from London to Edinburgh; A2 runs from London to Dover; A3 London to Portsmouth.

7. Used of a type of blood.

1927 Jrnl. Amer. Med. Assoc. LXXXVIII. 1422/1 Dr. Karl Landsteiner has suggested the substitution of the well known letters O, A, B and AB for the Jansky numbers I, II, III and IV and the Moss numbers IV, II, III and I. The letters will‥express the actual constitution of the blood corpuscles with respect to iso-agglutination, as far as it concerns the separation of the groups. 1928 Jrnl. Exper. Med. XLVII. 757 They separate the human bloods into four sharply defined groups designated as O, A, B, and AB.

8. Sociol. Designating the highest (or †lowest) of a series of social classes; now spec. the higher managerial, administrative, or professional class; a member of this. AB (Sociol.): pl., the membership of the two highest social classes A and B; also in sing. and as adj.

1889 C. Booth Life & Labour I. i. ii. 33 The 8 classes into which I have divided these people are: A. The lowest class of occasional labourers, and semi-criminals. B. Casual earnings—‘very poor’ [etc.]. 1910 F. G. D'aeth in Sociol. Rev. III. 270 The present class structure is based upon different standards of life.‥ These varying standards tend to fall into seven groups‥A. The Loafer‥B. Low-skilled labour‥C. Artizan‥D. Smaller Shopkeeper and clerk‥E. Smaller Business Class‥F. Professional and Administrative Class‥G. The Rich. 1936 Harrison & Mitchell Home Market xii. 59 Blue Symbols represent A grade—where chief income earner receives £10 per week or more. 1950 D. C. Jones in Brit. Jrnl. Sociol. I. 51 It will simplify both our analysis and your classification if you begin by thinking in terms of five main social classes, which we have lettered in descending order A, B, C, D, E. 1968 M. Abrams in J. A. Jackson Social Stratification vi. 135 In the middle 1950's,‥the National Readership Survey came under the direction of the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising (I.P.A.).‥ Interviewers recorded the occupation of each respondent.‥ The stratification of respondents into six grades—A, B, C1, C2, D and E—was based exclusively on occupation. 1984 Social Trends (Central Statistical Office) No. 14. x. 142 Almost every household in social classes A and B possessed a dictionary in May 1982. 1966 Punch 10 Aug. 212/1 We have shown‥that the ABs watch the same kind of programmes as everybody else. 1969 Listener 31 July 164 Such trusts appeal primarily to AB readers. 1976 New Society 1 Jan. 5/1 Upper middle class ABs living in the prosperous southern counties. 1986 Age (Melbourne) 18 Jan. 8/4 The social niceties‥are very A, B. When I say ‘dick’, Liz pounces.

9. Designating a range of international standard paper sizes (as A0, A1, A2, etc.), based on a proportion of 1: √2, with each size in the series having half the surface area of the previous one (see quot. 1937). Cf. B II. 2(v), C II. 4.

1932 Industr. Standardization III. 203/2 The European main or A-series of paper sizes.‥ The basic sheet with an area of one square meter is designated A0 (A zero); the next smaller sheet by A1; half of this by A2, etc. 1937 E. J. Labarre Dict. Paper 277/1 The basic sizes are therefore: A-series = A0 = 841 × 1189 mm; B-series = B0 = 1000 × 1414 mm; C-series = C0 = 917 × 1297 mm. 1958 B.S.I. News Nov. 17/2 Another manufacturer‥has laid down stocks of its ‘Wove Writing’ paper in three sizes from which the ‘A’ sizes can‥be cut. 1962 F. T. Day Introd. Paper vii. 71 At present there is much discussion of the advantages of what are termed A and B paper sizes. 1982 Financial Times 25 Oct. i. 12/7 The new chassis‥is about the size of an A4 sheet of paper. 1983 Electronics 1 Dec. 3e (heading) Linear CCD array senses images on A3-size pages.

10. A-side, of a single-playing gramophone record: (the music recorded on) the side that is being promoted; contr. with B-side s.v. B II2b(vi).

1962 Melody Maker 7 July 10/1 No doubt the A side will get plenty of spins. 1968 Guardian 5 Jan. 18/4 The seven-man band arrived at the London recording studio to make the ‘A’ side of a new ‘single’. 1970 J. Lennon in J. Wenner Lennon Remembers (1971) 49 Maybe if he was feeling guilty that he had most of the A-sides or something he'd give me a solo. 1984 Sounds 1 Dec. 6/5 The A-side features the inimitable talents of Jim Thirlwell on lead vocal.

III. Abbreviations. (Many abbreviations given here with the full stop are frequently used without it.)

A., a., a., stands for: (1) anno, in the year, as A.D. anno domini, in the year of our Lord; A.M. anno mundi, in the year of the world; A.U.C. anno urbis conditæ, in the year of the city (Rome) having been founded; (2) ante, as ‘a.m.’ ante meridiem, before noon; a. 1600 or a 1600, before 1600; (3) adjective; active (verb); (4) artium, as A.B. artium baccalaureus; A.M. artium magister; which in England are now written B.A., M.A., Bachelor, and Master, of Arts; (5) alto; (6) accepted (of bills); (7) Associate, as A.L.S. Associate of the Linnæan Society; (8) R.A. Royal Artillery, Royal Academy or Academician; F.S.A. Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries; F.R.A.S. Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society, and many similar titles; (9) A.B. able-bodied seaman; (10) a or aa in Med. ana, q.v.; A, adult, designating films suitable for exhibition to adult audiences; A., a., ampere; A, atom(ic); A, in £A, Australian; Å., Ångström; A.A., Alcoholics Anonymous (orig. U.S.); also, a member of this organization; A.A., A.-A., anti-aircraft; A.A., Automobile Association; A.A.A., Amateur Athletic Association; A.A.A., American Automobile Association; A.A.F., Auxiliary Air Force; A.A.M., air-to-air missile; A. and R. (see quots.); A.B., Bachelor of Arts; A.B.C., Aerated Bread Company; A.B.C., Australian Broadcasting Corporation (formerly Commission); also, †Australian Broadcasting Company; A.B.C.A., Army Bureau of Current Affairs, an organization which provided troops with information about current affairs during the 1939–45 war; ABM, anti-ballistic missile (orig. U.S.); cf. I.C.B.M. s.v. I III; ABS, acrylonitrile-butadiene-styrene; freq. attrib., esp. designating a group of metallizable plastics consisting of a rubbery phase dispersed in a hard phase and with uses that include tubing, parts of car bodies, and domestic articles; A.C., A/C, aircraftman; A.C., a.c., alternating current; A.C.C., anodal (or anodic) closure contraction; A.C.C.M., (also with pronunc. ˈækəm), Advisory Council for the Church's Ministry; AC/DC, AC-DC [humorously after A.C. and D.C. (alternating and direct electrical current): see above and D III. 3] slang (orig. U.S.), of a person: bisexual; A.C.L.U., American Civil Liberties Union; A.C.P., African, Caribbean, and Pacific (countries), spec. the signatories to the Lomé Convention (see quot. 19752); A.C.S., antireticular cytotoxic serum; A.C.T., Australian Capital Territory; A.C.T.H., adrenocorticotrop(h)ic hormone; A.C.T.T., Association of Cinematograph, Television, and Allied Technicians; A.C.T.U., Australian (formerly also Australasian) Council of Trade Unions; A.C.V., air-cushion vehicle (see air-cushion (b) s.v. air n.1 B. II); A.C.W., aircraftwoman; A.D.C., aide-de-camp, hence A.D.C.-ship, aide-de-campship; A.D.F., automatic direction finder; A.D.G.B., Air Defence of Great Britain; ADH, antidiuretic hormone; A.D.P., automatic data processing; A.D.(S.), autograph document (signed); A.E.F., American Expeditionary Forces; cf. B.E.F. s.v. B III. 1; A.E.U., Amalgamated Engineering Union; A.F., a.f., audio frequency; A.F.C., Air Force Cross; A.F.M., Air Force Medal; A.F.S., Auxiliary Fire Service; A.F.V., armoured fighting vehicle; A.G., Adjutant-General; A.G., Attorney-General; A.G.M., annual general meeting; A.G.R., advanced gas-cooled reactor; A.H., Anno Hegiræ (see hegira); A.I., Air Interception; A.I., A.I.D., A.I.H., artificial insemination (by donor, husband); AI, artificial intelligence; A.I.D., Aeronautical Inspection Directorate (in quot. 1918 Department); A.I.D. (pron. eɪd) (U.S.), Agency for International Development, established in 1961 to give economic aid to underdeveloped countries; A.I.F., Australian Imperial Force; AIM (pron. eɪm) (U.S.), American Indian Movement; a.k.a. (colloq., orig. U.S.), also known as; A.K.C., American Kennel Club; A level, Advanced level (of the General Certificate of Education examination); A.L.P., Australian Labour Party; A.L.(S.), autograph letter (signed); ALU (Computing), arithmetic and logic(al) unit; A.M., Albert Medal; A.M., amplitude modulation; cf. F.M. s.v. F III. 3a; A.M.A., American Medical Association; A.M.D.G. [L. ad maiorem Dei gloriam], to the greater glory of God (esp. as a motto of the Jesuits); A.M.G., Allied Military Government; A.N.C., African National Congress; A.N.(S.), autograph note (signed); A.O.N.B., area of outstanding natural beauty; cf. S.S.S.I. s.v. S I. 4a; A.P., Associated Press; APB (U.S.), all-points bulletin (see all III); A.P.C. (Austral. and U.S.), aspirin (= acetylsalicylic acid), phenacetin, and caffeine, used as an analgesic or antipyretic; a mixture, tablet, or capsule containing these; A.P.I., American Petroleum Institute (used spec. with reference to a scale for expressing the relative density of oil, developed by the Institute, in which higher values correspond to lower densities); APL [now usu. expanded as ‘a programming language’, but see quot. 1966], a high-level computer programming language developed by IBM in the mid-1960s; APR, annual(ized) percentage rate (of interest on money lent on credit); A.P.T., advanced passenger train; ARC, AIDS-related complex; A.R.P. (see air-raid); ASA (also with pronunc. ˈeɪsə), American Standards Association (used spec. in Photogr. with reference to a standard scale for rating film speed); A.S.A.P., a.s.a.p. (also with pronunc. ˈeɪsæp), as soon as possible; A.S.B., Alternative Service Book; A.S.C., Army Service Corps; ASEAN, Asean (pron. ˈeɪsɪən), Association of South-East Asian Nations; ASH (pron. æʃ), Action on Smoking and Health; ASL, American Sign Language; A.S.M., air-to-surface missile; A.S.M., assistant stage-manager; A/S.R.S., Air-Sea Rescue Service; A.S.T.M.S. (also with pronunc. ˈæstəmz), Association of Scientific, Technical, and Managerial Staffs; A.S.V., air(craft) to surface vessel; A.T.A., Air Transport Auxiliary; A.T.&T. (U.S.), American Telephone and Telegraph Company; A.T.C., Air Traffic Control; A.T.C., Air Training Corps; A.T.C., Automatic Train Control; ATM (Banking, orig. U.S.), automated (orig. automatic) teller machine; A.T.S., animal tub-sized; ATV, all-terrain vehicle; A.T.V., Associated Television; Å.U., A.U., Ångström Unit; A.U. = astronomical unit s.v. astronomical a. 3; AUEW, Amalgamated Union of Engineering Workers; AV, alternative vote; A.V., Authorized Version (of the Bible); A.V.H., initials of Hungarian secret police, also A.V.O.; A.V.M., Air Vice-Marshal; A.W.O.L., absent without leave (orig. U.S.); A.W.U., Australian Workers' Union; AZT, azidothymidine.

See also (as main entries) ABTA, ACAS, ADAS, AIDS, A-OK, Apex n.2, n.3, Apra, ASCII, A.S.L.E.F., AWACS.

1914 Times 16 Feb. 6/2 Since the inception of the board [British Board of Film Censors]‥627 have been passed for ‘public’ exhibition with the ‘*A’ certificate. 1935 Ld. Macmillan Local Govt. Law & Admin. III. 166 It is the practice of the Board of Film Censors to distinguish between films suitable for universal exhibition (‘U’ films) and films suitable for exhibition to adult audiences (‘A’ films) which by implication are unsuitable for children. 1936 Sunday Express 13 Dec. 14/1 Cinema Theatres. Academy, Ox.-st. Finnish Epic ‘Fredlos’ (A). 1889 S. R. Bottone Electric Bells ii. 56 Or if we like to use the initials of volts, ampères, and ohms‥we may write VR = *A, or VoltsOhms = Ampères. 1937 Rep. Joint Comm. Chem. Soc. Faraday Soc. etc. 11 Ampère (in sub-units) = a. 1945 Daily Mirror 8 Aug. 1 (headline) Jap Radio says Evacuate—'Ware *A-Bombs. 1954 Britannica Bk. of Year 637/2 A-test, a test explosion of an atomic bomb. 1936 Whitaker's Alman. 1937 810/2 Total imports, 1935–36‥£*A104,687,000. 1941 Sat. Even. Post 1 Mar. 10/3 The city editor, the assistant city editor and a nationally known reporter were *A.A.'s. 1943 A.A. (Alcoholic Foundation) 1 As an active member of A.A. since 1939, I feel myself a useful member of the human race at last. 1955 M. McCarthy Charmed Life i. 13 Drink‥was one of the chief local dangers.‥ In a village of four hundred souls, there was‥a branch of A.A., with regular Wednesday meetings. 1977 M. French Women's Room (1978) ii. 117, I keep thinking I just have to get through today, you know? Like an AA. 1914 Times Book of Navy 145 The abbreviations used in the lists are as follows:‥*A.A., Anti-air-craft guns. 1917 ‘Contact’ Airman's Outings 157 The A.-A. batteries have only worried us to the extent of half a dozen shells. 1943 N. & Q. CLXXXIV. 107/2 A.-A. barrage was audible from twenty miles away. 1905 Autocar 14 Oct. 443/1 Commonsense precautions taken with regard to villages, and at dangerous points, do not concern the *A.A., for therein it is considered lies the duty of the policeman. 1937 Discovery July liv/2 (Advt.), Victoria Hotel, A.A. H. & C. Electricity. 1882 Amateur Athl. Assoc.: Rules, Laws to be observed at every Athletic Meeting held under the sanction of the *A.A.A. 1955 Times 20 July 3/5 B. S. Hewson, the A.A.A. mile champion. 1902 Automobile May 1945/1 (heading) Constitution and by-laws of the *A.A.A. 1955 Times 4 Aug. 10/2 Colonel Hallington, the chairman of the A.A.A. contest board, said that the decision had been prompted by the accident at Le Mans. 1973 C. W. Gear Introd. Computer Sci. vii. 311 Suppose that you have to design an online system for the AAA. It must store the road map of the United States. 1982 Financial Times 6 Dec. 1 The AAA contract‥constitutes the major portion of Cook's U.S. travellers' cheque business. 1925 Flight 15 Jan. 32/2 The designating numbers of the *A.A.F. units will start with 600. 1958 Aero-Space Terms 1/1 *AAM, Air-to-air missile. 1958 Times 26 May 7/6 *A and R men, dee-jays, pluggers—to use the abbreviated titles by which artists and recording managers, disc jockeys and exploitation men are known. 1959 TV Times 14 Aug. 11/1 It all revolves around someone known as an ‘A and R man’. The common translation of ‘A and R’ is Artists and Repertoire—and it is for these two items that the A and R man is responsible. 1773 Boston News-Let. 29 Apr. 2/2 Last Friday departed this life‥John Alden, *A.B., aged 22. 1842 Knickerbocker XIX. 429 A man may‥write A.B. after his name, and even A.M., and be no great things either. 1895 Rep. to Harvard Club of Chicago 2 (D.A.E.), Educational qualifications equivalent to the Harvard A.B. 1894 Punch 15 Dec. 285/1, I pass an *A.B.C., Where I purchase two or three Cakes and scones. 1941 E. Blunden Thomas Hardy 120 Afterwards we went to a Lyons tea-shop, at which he [Hardy] was a little alarmed, being used only to an A.B.C. 1931 Austral. Broadcasting Co. Ltd. Year Bk. 1930 24 (heading) The widespread ramifications of the *A.B.C. 1933 1st Ann. Rep. Austral. Broadcasting Commission 9 A.B.C. (Sydney) Symphony Orchestra. 1957 ‘N. Shute’ On Beach iv. 132 The A.B.C.'s been doing a good job in telling people just the way things are. 1959 New Statesman 31 Jan. 151/1 The Australian Broadcasting Commission‥is subject to constant pressure, much of it is organised, and ABC officials need remarkable stamina to resist political and sectarian attack. 1984 Daily Tel. 7 May 17/4 Air hostesses will become flight attendants and newsmen on the ABC will be journalists. 1942 Rep. Comm. on Amenities in Women's Services (Cmd. 6384) 44 *ABCA came into existence in September, 1941, to remedy this ignorance and to mitigate boredom. 1963 Missiles & Rockets 16 Sept. 14 (heading) Soviets may have ultimate *ABM. 1984 Daily Tel. 2 Feb. 18/6 The Air Vice-Marshal claims that Russia has violated the SALT and ABM treaties. 1964 Brit. Plastics Year Bk. (ed. 34) iv. 229/1 *A.B.S. Fabricators. 1967 Times Rev. Industry June 76/2 Familiar uses include‥PVC or ABS‥for decorative use in fascia boards. 1983 McGraw-Hill Encycl. Chem. 792/1 Ease of fabrication by a variety of methods, including typical metalworking methods such as cold stamping, has led to the development of new uses for ABS resins. 1889 E. J. Houston Dict. Electr. Words 8 *A.C.C.—An abbreviation used in medical electricity for Anodic Closure Contraction, or the contraction observed on closing the circuit when the anode is lying over the muscle. 1893 Dunglison Dict. Med. Sci. (ed. 21) p. vii, A.C.C., anodal closure contraction. 1967 Church of England Yearbk. 177 Candidates for courses‥are specially selected by *ACCM. 1984 Oxf. Diocesan Mag. Feb. 15/2 Calls for dis-establishment from Evangelicals, and some Catholics, for an ‘all members ministry’ (to quote ACCM). 1960 Wentworth & Flexner Dict. Amer. Slang 1/2 *ac-dc, ac/dc,‥bisexual. Some jocular use since c1940. 1972 D. Lees Zodiac 115 Being suspected of being AC/DC isn't going to ruin anyone these days. 1974 K. Millett Flying (1975) i. 91 You can also tell Time Magazine you're bisexual, be AC-DC in the international edition. 1983 Him May 7/2 I'm, well, a bit that way myself, if you follow.‥ You know, AC/DC‥half and half. 1936 Amer. Mercury Dec. 385/2 The fiction of the ‘Liberalism’ of the *ACLU has been firmly implanted in the popular mind. 1980 Economist 21 June 28/3 The ACLU may have a strong case. 1975 Ann. Reg. 1974 381 Jamaica's Minister of Trade‥led the *ACP group. 1975 Keesing's Contemp. Archives 27050/1 A five-year convention establishing an overall trading and economic co-operation relationship between the European Economic Community and 46 developing African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries was signed in Lomé (the capital of Togo) on Feb. 28. 1983 Financial Times 4 Oct. 14 It offers some protection against declining prices for a range of ACP commodities through the Stabex mechanism; and it is committed to buying 1.3m tons of ACP sugar a year. 1938 Official Year Bk. Australia 390 *A.C.T. 1945 S. J. Baker Austral. Lang. x. 187 We use A.C.T. or F.C.T. to denote the Australian or Federal Capital Territory where Canberra is situated. 1957 Film & TV Technician XXIII. 5/3 The new *A.C.T.T. badges and brooches can be obtained from Head Office. 1974 Socialist Worker 26 Oct. 11/2 The ACTT‥organise more than 18,000 film and TV workers. 1985 Listener 28 Feb. 13/3 The ACTT has taken a strong interest in the development of the independent sector. 1928 Econ. Rec. May 108 The 1927 Congress‥set itself to construct machinery that might act adequately in the field of Interstate industrial disputes. Hence the new Australasian Council of Trades Unions (*A.C.T.U.). 1972 J. Belfrage in G. W. Turner Good Austral. Eng. vi. 108 This is another local reference‥to the active pro-labour work of the new President of the ACTU. 1986 Courier-Mail (Brisbane) 3 July 4/1 The acting Opposition Leader‥said the commission should‥not give in to ACTU and Government blackmail tactics. 1962 Flight Internat. LXXXI. 113 Free-moving *ACVs will be going into business also, together with hydrofoil craft. 1975 Aviation Week & Space Technol. 1 Sept. 17 Slightly smaller and considerably smaller versions of the Russian ACV craft are shown at top and bottom. 1837 E. Eden Let. 28 Oct. in Up the Country (1866) I. i. 9 The *A.D.C.'s are very apt to assemble over our cabins at night. 1888 Kipling Plain Tales from Hills 10 The A.-D.-C. in Waiting. 1896 Punch 4 Jan. 5/2 Permitted to retain his A.D.C.-ship after promotion from field-rank. 1948 Shell Aviation News No. 123, 10/2 When homing on a ground station with the *ADF the passage of the aircraft over the station is indicated by a 180° reversal of bearing within a few seconds. 1926 Flight 6 May 272/2 The Fighting and Wessex Bombing Areas are under the A.O.C.-in-C., *A.D.G.B. 1944 Times 1 Mar. 4/5 Sir Archibald Sinclair disclosed for the first time that the organization responsible for the air defence of this country is now known as A.D.G.B. (Air Defence of Great Britain). 1951 H. W. Smith Kidney x. 245 It is only in birds and mammals that *ADH increases the tubular reabsorption of water. 1983 Oxf. Textbk. Med. II. xviii. 20/2 Reliable assays for ADH in plasma or urine are now available. 1958 Engineering 4 Apr. 424/1 Automatic data processing (or *ADP) is the modern nervous system of corporate bodies. 1861 Sotheby & Wilkinson Catal. 1 July Tenison Mss. 36 A. signifies Autograph S. signifies Signed L. signifies Letter D. signifies Document. Ibid. 50 Colbert, A.L.S. to Cavalier Bernino, 1665—Perrault (the architect of the Louvre), *A.D.S. with portrait. 1912 F. K. Walter Abbrev. & Techn. Terms Book Catal. 1 A.D., Autograph document. A.D.S., Autograph document signed. 1917 U.S. Army A.E.F. Gen. Staff Press Rev. 12 Dec. 1/1 Issued by the Second Section General Staff, G.H.Q.*A.E.F. 1977 H. Fast Immigrants iii. 177 He joined in the singing of ‘Smiles’‥one of the theme songs of the AEF. 1921 Justice 24 Feb. 6/2 (heading) The N.U.R. and the *A.E.U. and also the R.C.A. a1974 R. Crossman Diaries (1976) II. 497, I spent the morning with the old A.E.U. members who have A.E.U. pensions. 1919 Whitaker's Alman. 144/1 The Air Force Cross. 1918—*A.F.C.—Instituted‥for acts of courage or devotion to duty when flying, although not in active operations against the enemy. 1919 London Gaz. (Suppl. 5) 19 Dec. 15840/2 Actg. Serjeant Elmo O'Neal Bearden, *A.F.M. (South Russia). 1921 S. C. Johnson Medal Collector 237 A.F.M.—As for the A.F.C., but the width of the stripes is 116 of an inch.‥ The D.F.M. and A.F.M. ribbon will show at the top corner nearest to the left arm a triangle of white. 1939 War Weekly 1 Dec. 166/2 Flying Officer R. C. Graveley, O.B.E., receiving congratulations from members of a Leytonstone *A.F.S. station. 1940 New Statesman 21 Dec. 642 Most of its best workers are busy on A.R.P., or A.F.S., or evacuation, or some other emergency job. 1939 War Illustr. 18 Nov. p. iii/1 Wartime Abbreviations:‥*A.F.V., Armoured Fighting Vehicle. 1942 Wardens' Bulletin (City of Oxford Civil Defence) No. 53, 18 June 3 Vehicles. Very dark dull grey with dark brown disruptive design. A.F.V.'s have black cross outlined in white. 1913 W. T. Rogers Dict. Abbrev. 7/1 *A.G., Adjutant-General. 1914 W. S. Churchill in M. Gilbert Winston S. Churchill (1972) III. Compan. i. 185 A.G., R.M. will make arrangements for their reception in the camps. 1957 H. H. Jenkins Diction of ‘Yank’ vi. 55 Many official and quasi-official abbreviations were used in GI speech the world over. The most widely known ones included‥‘A.G.’ (the adjutant general, or his office, or a member of his staff). 1889 A. J. Balfour Let. 11 Apr. (Br. Libr. Add. MSS 49827 f. 845), My dear *A.G. a1912 W. T. Rogers Dict. Abbrev. (1913) 7/2 *A.G.M. (gen.), Annual General Meeting. 1952 Secretaries Jrnl. 2 Aug. 99/2 It is surely not the intention to enable even private companies to hold their A.G.M.'s on paper with the members in various different places. 1961 Architect & Building News 21 June 814/1 Mr. Henry Brooke‥spoke up for the need for better architecture when addressing the AGM of the Council for Visual Education recently. 1984 National Trust Spring 23/3 The present inordinately long period between June and the AGM caused unnecessary barriers. 1960 Gloss. Atomic Terms (H.M.S.O.) 2 *A.G.R., advanced gas-cooled reactor. 1961 Ann. Reg. 1960 405 The most advanced of the two schemes was the Advanced Gas-Cooled Reactor (AGR), the prototype of which was under construction at Windscale. 1983 Listener 14 July 6/1 The American reactor will produce five times as much intermediate waste as the AGR. 1788 Gibbon Decl. & F. V. lii. 418 The foundations of Bagdad were laid *a.h. 145, a.d. 762. 1940 F. Stark Winter in Arabia iv. 25 It [sc. the wooden minbar] belonged to the year a.h. 693 (1293 a.d.). 1945 Electronic Engin. XVII. 683 With the Battle of Britain by night must be associated the use of *A.I. or Air Interception. 1945 Flight 21 June 664/2 Later on came airborne interception equipment (A.I.), which comprised a radar set in the aircraft by means of which the target objective could be registered, stalked and attacked. 1971 New Scientist 2 Sept. 525 The first major effort of the *AI scientists was directed towards writing computer programs to translate automatically between languages. 1985 Business Week 1 July 78 Sales for AI technology will top £719 million this year. 1918 C. Bright Telegr., Aeronaut. & War xix. 291 Steps should be taken‥to introduce into the Aeronautical Inspection Department (*A.I.D.) more who have had a training that would especially fit them for the work in a technical sense. 1931 Flight 16 Jan. 56/2 Those who occupy those front offices such as the A.I.D. and the Meteorological Office staff. 1961 J. F. Kennedy in N.Y. Times 27 May 2/5 Responsibility‥will be assigned to a single agency—the Agency for International Development.‥ The new agency—*A.I.D.—will be headed by an administrator of Under Secretary rank. 1983 N.Y. Times 11 Dec. 15/1 The inquiries‥involve a £14 million A.I.D.-financed contract. 1918 Official Year Bk. Australia XI. 1019 Little difficulty was experienced‥in‥obtaining and training horses for the mounted units of the *A.I.F. 1940 War Illustr. 16 Feb. 121 The Second A.I.F.—Australian Imperial Force—consisting of men who have volunteered for service either at home or abroad. 1971 Minneapolis Tribune 16 Aug. 12/2 The occupation began‥when 25 Indians, most of them members of the American Indian Movement (*AIM) broke a window. 1983 N.Y. Times 11 Dec. 33/1 Whether or not the AIM Indians were involved, it was over quickly. 1955 R. J. Schwartz Compl. Dict. Abbrev. 8/1 *aka, also known as. 1970 New Yorker 5 Dec. 142/1 (Advt.), Cassius Clay, a.k.a. Muhammud Ali. 1982 Times 8 Nov. 11/1 He is perhaps a shade too comfortable and not enough of a cad as Johnson, aka Ramirez, the outlaw. 1902 Dog Fancier Jan. 3/2 The dog show will be under *A.K.C. rules. 1983 Christian Science Monitor 18 Aug. b 22 It [sc. the Dog Museum of America] is located in the same building where the AKC has its headquarters. 1951 Joint Matric. Board Gen. Cert. Exam. Reg. 6 If a language is to be specially approved at the *A level. 1952 Jrnl. Educ. May 220/2 The award of an ‘O’ level pass on the ‘A’ level papers. 1922 Round Table Mar. 409 The federal conference of the *A.L.P., held at Perth in June, 1918. 1973 Nation Rev. (Melbourne) 31 Aug. 1434/1 Will the ALP grow a new set of wings? 1851 Puttick & Simpson Catal. 29 July, Autograph Letters 1, Letters autograph and signed are thus marked ‘*A.L.s.’ 1962 Automatic Data Processing Gloss. (U.S. Bureau of Budget) 2/2 *ALU. 1984 Byte Jan. 135/1 A basic operation of the ALU will be to accept two 16-bit inputs and to produce a 32-bit product. 1918 Times 6 Sept. 3/2 It is notified in Army Orders that officers‥ who have been awarded the Albert Medal are now entitled to add the distinctive letters ‘*A.M.’ after their names. 1944 *A.M. [see amplitude 6d]. 1962 E. Snow Other Side of River (1963) xlvi. 352 The hi-fi set and typewriter have already been stolen and only a worthless AM set remains. 1982 Giant Bk. Electronics Projects i. 27 Reduce hash picked up on AM broadcast sets. 1911 Sunset Sept. 284/1 Now and then the ducks left their pond and waddled pompously across the lawn, as if to let the *A.M.A. know that the ‘quacks’ had a right to membership, too. 1959 New Statesman 13 June 833/3 One cannot help wondering whether obstruction by the AMA has played any part in preventing Eckstein's book from being published earlier. 1984 N.Y. Times 24 Feb. 1a/6 (heading) A.M.A. bids doctors voluntarily freeze their fees for a year. [1870 Catholic Times 13 Aug 1/3 (heading) A.M.G.D.] 1877 E. S. Dallas Kettner's Bk. of Table 279 Another liqueur, Bénédictine‥is consecrated with the letters *A.M.D.G. (Ad majorem Dei gloriam). 1965 N. Freeling Criminal Conversation ii. xiii. 148 We had to write at the top of the page‥the Jesuit motto A.M.D.G. 1985 Church Times 29 Nov. 13/1 Men and women must be freed from oppression. But freed for what? By way of answer it is always possible to fall back on the Jesuits' formula AMDG. 1953 Keesing's Contemp. Archives 13006/1 Mr. Albert Luthuli (president-general of the *A.N.C.). 1959 New Statesman 6 June 779/1 The ensuing ban on Luthuli was timed to prevent him‥from presiding‥at a special national ANC conference in Johannesburg. 1984 Daily Tel. 24 Mar. 16/1 For many years the ANC was a peaceful organisation dedicated to changing South Africa through non-violent means. 1912 F. K. Walter Abbrev. & Techn. Terms Book Catal. 1 *A.N.S. Autograph note signed. 1957 Ann. Rep. Council Preservation of Rural Eng. 1956–7 32/1 The Breckland area of Norfolk and Suffolk has also been considered‥for designation as an *A.O.N.B. but rejected as unsuitable. 1973 Times 21 Apr. 14/5 Official AONB status allows government grants to be paid for tree-planting and removal of eyesores and enhancement. 1981 Economist 24 Jan. 72/2 Together national parks, AONBs and SSIs cover some 21% of the land area of England and Wales. 1879 Chicago Tribune 4 Mar. 5/4 Now, the *A.P. may be a very wicked institution, but a ‘Monopoly’ it is not. 1947 Mem. Evidence Subm. to Royal Comm. on Press i. 14 The full A.P. service is provided to Press Association and a selection of items is distributed to subscribers in this country. 1960 Acronyms Dict. (Gale Research Co.) 38 *APB, all points bulletin. (Police call.) 1973 A. Burton Police Telecommunications viii. 255 The necessity occurs‥to broadcast to all listening ears and stations a variety of general information broadcasts.‥ These involve‥robberies, burglaries‥and general informational broadcasts. It is for this reason that the term ‘all points bulletin (APB)’ was adopted as being more descriptive of the intended use than ‘general alarm’. 1979 A. Hailey Overload iv. xvii. 382 A man‥drove away in a Volkswagen van half an hour before the place was raided. The police have issued an APB for the van. 1943 W. G. Sears Materia Medica for Nurses xi. 134 Tablets containing aspirin mixed with other drugs are‥commonly used, e.g. Compound aspirin tablet.‥ Tab. *A.P.C., containing aspirin‥, phenacetin‥, caffeine. 1970 G. Jackson Let. 30 Mar. in Soledad Brother (1971) 200 When I ask for medication the M.T.A. gives me an APC or two. 1924 Circular U.S. Bureau of Standards No. 154. 2 The American Petroleum Institute, the U.S. Bureau of Mines, and the U.S. Bureau of Standards in December, 1921, agreed to recommend that in the future only the scale based on the modulus 141.5 be used in the petroleum-oil industry, and that it be known as the *A.P.I. scale. 1958 Times Rev. Industry June 59/1 Crude oil prices are usually quoted on a scale‥the heavier oil commanding‥say 2 cents a barrel for each degree A.P.I. more than the lighter. 1984 N.Y. Times 26 Feb. ii. 39/2 Check the product's specific gravity (density and viscosity). It should have an API range between 30 and 40 degrees. 1966 AFIPS Conf. Proc. XXIX. 677/2 *APL was conceived at the General Motors Research Laboratories to satisfy the need for convenient data handling techniques in a high-level language. Standing for associative programming language, it is designed to be embedded in PL/I as an aid to the user dealing with data structures in which associations are expressed. 1979 Sci. Amer. Dec. 90/1 An even more highly developed language in terms of the manipulation of arrays, indeed the most sophisticated of any of the programming languages in this respect, is APL. 1984 N.Y. Times 8 Jan. xii. 7/3 He taught himself how to program by sitting at a terminal with a book on APL. 1979 Money Which? Sept. 502/2 There are plans to make all lenders quote an annual percentage rate of charge (*APR) worked out in a set way. 1983 Which? Oct. 450/3 Ask for written details about payment—find out the difference between cash and credit prices, the terms of any loans you're offered, and what the APR is. 1986 Oxford Times 15 Aug. 19/1 (Advt.), Fiat Uno 45.‥ Total credit price £4,432.63. 0% APR. 1969 Railway Mag. Jan. 22/2 To overcome the lateral forces on passengers when such a fast train negotiates a curve, the *A.P.T. will incorporate a hydraulically-operated vehicle-body tilting mechanism which would be capable of ‘banking’ the bodies of the vehicles by up to 9 deg. to either side. 1971 New Scientist 10 June 624/2 The APT is going to be the common or garden inter-city train of the future. 1976 P. R. White Planning for Public Transport viii. 173 The first APTs to enter service will probably work the London-Glasgow run. 1984 Time 5 Nov. 91/3 Some individuals will develop the full-blown syndrome, others will simply manifest the flulike symptoms of AIDS-related complex (*ARC). Ibid., Some ARC patients do get better. 1986 N.Y. Rev. Bks. 16 Jan. 43/1 It was also held to be the cause of the milder form of the illness known as AIDS-related complex (ARC) — a group of symptoms including swollen lymph glands in several parts of the body, night sweating, substantial weight loss, and recurrent diarrhea. 1929 Amer. Standards Assoc. Year Bk. 7/2 The *ASA limits itself strictly to those fields in which engineering methods apply. 1943 Jrnl. Optical Soc. Amer. XXXIII. 479/2 For general civilian use it would be more satisfactory to employ a name indicating that this value was related to speed. The term American Standard Speed Number was‥chosen.‥ The initials ASA may be used in connection with numerical values of Speed Number when determined in accordance with the complete method. 1976 Early Music Oct. 451/1 All films have a speed number on the carton—an ASA number—which indicates how sensitive the film is to light. 1955 R. J. Schwartz Compl. Dict. Abbrev. 16/3 *ASAP,‥as soon as possible (US Army). 1977 Times Educ. Suppl. 21 Oct. 51/5 (Advt.), Required A.S.A.P.: Young enthusiastic teacher to take P.E. 1977 Daily Tel. 7 Dec. 25 (Advt.), Do it a.s.a.p. He will be happy to talk to you. 1985 Washington Post 11 Aug. g4/3 It is selfish and inconsiderate for a guest [at a party] to conclude that he/she will not be entertained adequately and must therefore bail out ASAP. 1978 Church Times 14 July 4/4 To exclude the psalms from the *ASB would be to hasten their [sc. hymns'] decline. 1984 Daily Tel. 8 Mar. 18/5 There are parishes who have welcomed the freshness of ASB services. 1906 Army & Navy Gaz. 2 June 510/2 C.S.M. Yates, *A.S.C., Dublin. 1941 W. Fortescue Trampled Lilies xxviii. 267 She continued to cope throughout the day, marshalling her men like a General of the A.S.C. [1963 F. D. Fawcett Cycl. Initials & Abbrev. 13/2 ASEA, Assocn. of S.E. Asia.] 1967 Times 9 Aug. 4/1 Leaders of five Asian countries today called for collective action to prevent outside interference in the region‥after signing the joint declaration setting up the new Association of South-East Asian Nations (*A.S.E.A.N.). 1968 Economist 23 Mar. 33/1 We must not think that Asean is a common market. 1968 Ann. Reg. 1967 91 Early in August, Malaysia and Singapore participated together with Thailand, the Philippines, and Indonesia in the establishment in Bangkok of the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN). 1977 Bangladesh Times 19 Jan. 11/6 The meeting would mark the first anniversary of the ASEAN summit meeting in Bali last year. 1983 Listener 2 June 16/1 Hanoi said it was pulling out an unspecified number of these as a gesture of good will towards Vietnam's non-Communist neighbours in ASEAN. 1968 Christian Science Monitor 30 Jan. 5/1 Most recently there is the formation of the brand new Action on Smoking and Health (*ASH) to act as a legal arm of the antismoking forces. 1971 C. Fletcher in R. G. Richardson Proc. Second World Conf. Smoking & Health (1972) 6 As chairman of ASH I also wish to express our thanks‥for‥financial support to help voluntary agencies to collaborate in action with the effects of legislative measures. 1983 Listener 30 June 36/1 After talking to ASH‥I use the word ‘lethal’ advisedly. 1965 W. C. Stokoe et al. Dict. Amer. Sign Lang. 293 Some ‘signs’ for numbers in *ASL are simply configurations shown as letters are. 1983 A. Neisser Other Side of Silence i. 16 They‥had spent five years trying to teach ASL to Washoe. 1958 Aero-Space Terms 4/1 *ASM, air-to-surface missile. 1926 J. Saville Let. (unpubl.) 12 May, Mr. Denville wants you to do *A.S.M. 1949 K. S. Allen A.B.C. of Stagecraft for Amateurs iv. 30 The A.S.M. often combines the duties of a stage-hand with that of ‘props’ or stage-carpenter, or for any useful purpose around the stage. 1982 S. Brett Murder Unprompted xviii. 156 He had a word with the A.S.M. before the show. 1967 in Hughes & Pollins Trade Unions in Gt. Brit. (1973) xliii. 200 A new body—the Association of Scientific, Technical and Managerial Staffs—would be established. The Executive Council of the *ASTMS would consist of six members each from the Executives of the present unions. 1979 Jenkins & Sherman White-Collar Unionism ii. 31 ASTMS‥has over 440,000 members and is a general union. 1944 U.S. War Dept. Techn. Man., TM 11–467 364 *A.S.V. 1945 Flight 23 Aug. 210/1 A centimetric A.S.V., the device carried in Coastal Command aircraft which directed them to the surfaced U-boat. 1921 Harper's Mag. Oct. 632/2 Organized in 1885 for long-lines construction, the ‘*A. T. & T.’ had grown steadily more powerful. 1965 J. A. Michener Source (1966) 884 Until the day when A.T. and T. drops to forty and you have an economic crisis. 1976 Washington Post 19 Apr. a6/2 AT&T‥owns most intercity long distance lines. 1949 Jrnl. R. Aeronaut. Soc. LIII. 959/2 The inefficiency of *A.T.C. (Air Traffic Control) procedures and patterns. 1934 Railway Mag. Apr. 290 (caption) Diagram of Signum *A.T.C. system. 1958 Engineering 14 Mar. 336/1 Before the Second World War‥in general, the Great Western Railway had A.T.C. and the other British railways did not. 1976 Business Week 28 June 45 On the basis of the trial the average cost of a transaction with 60 *ATMs would be $1.25 vs. 40 cents using a live teller. 1979 Good Housekeeping Aug. 215/1 To use an ATM you need a plastic bank card. a1912 Spalding & Hodge's Paper Terminol. ii. 1 Animal Tub-sized, or *A.T.S., is a term employed to denote the more costly method of passing the manufactured sheet through a bath or ‘tub’ of animal size. 1970 Time 23 Nov. 41 Marauders on *ATVs or snowmobiles occasionally strip hunters' shacks or loot vacation homes. 1987 Washington Post 21 Apr. a3/1 The rockhounds, the ranchers‥, the All Terrain Vehicle (ATV) enthusiasts, all are resolved to‥try to stop the idea. 1957 Daily Mail 4 Sept. 12/8 *ATV announce The £4,000 Question on September 14. 1927 H. N. Russell et al. Astron. I. App. p.i., 1 astronomical unit (*A.U.) = 1·4945 × 108 km. 1975 Kaye & Laby Tables Physical & Chem. Constants (ed. 14) i. 129 Primary constants. Measure of 1 AU.‥ 1·49600 × 1011m. 1984 Aviation Week & Space Technol. 2 Jan. 48/3 Halley will be‥0·97 AU from Earth at the time of the Giotto encounter. 1971 Times 9 Nov. 19/7 The 1.4 m member *AUEW—the most important craft union in the country. 1986 Financial Times 13 Aug. 10/3 In the days of the joint GEC–Hitachi there were a number of unions recognised at the plant—the EETPU (716 members), AUEW (223), ASTMS (87), [etc.]. 1965 New Statesman 6 Aug. 174/1 His colleagues would happily settle for the single-member-constituency *AV system. 1983 Financial Times 2 Nov. 15 It is most unlikely in Australia, where the alternative vote (AV) system applies in the most important elections. 1868 B. F. Westcott Gen. View Hist. Eng. Bible iii. 334 In the later (Irish) editions of the ‘Rhemes and Doway’ Bible and New Testament there are considerable alterations, and the text is far nearer to that in the *A.V. 1982 G. Hammond Making of Eng. Bible 237 The same phrase occurs twice in Genesis.‥ Tyndale renders both as ‘speak kindly’. The AV follows his rendering. 1953 N.Y. Times 29 Mar. §vi. 9/3 The structure of terror in Hungary consists of many overlapping‥agencies: It is a pyramid with the Allam Vedelmi Hasotag (State Security Authority, or secret police), at the apex. *A.V.H., which has 50,000 men and women in its force, is‥the party's harsh punitive arm. 1956 New Statesman 22 Dec. 818/1 The‥lynching of many persons, A.V.H. men and Party members in particular. 1929 T. E. Lawrence Let. 22 Jan. (1938) v. 640, I could do nothing, with the *A.V.M., of what I'd hoped. 1956 Times 29 Nov. 10/5 The Kadar Government is also concerned‥at the treatment being meted out by the population to former members of the *A.V.O. (secret police). 1921 Outing (U.S.) June 137/1, I was surprised to find one day that unless I left the following morning to rejoin my regiment I would be an ‘*a-w-o-l’. 1929 Amer. Speech IV. 351 Absence without leave is a military offense designated by the abbreviation awol, usually written without periods and sometimes with small letters, in the pronunciation of which each letter is pronounced. 1949 Wodehouse Mating Season x. 98 Nothing sticks the gaff into your chatelaine more than a guest being constantly a.w.o.l. 1957 B. & C. Evans Dict. Contemp. Amer. Usage 9/2 awol‥in World War I‥was pronounced as four letters; in World War II, it was pronounced as a word. 1911 C. E. W. Bean ‘Dreadnought’ of Darling xxxviii. 337 The situation, however, was supposed to be solved when the *A.W.U.‥issued instructions that the train must not be interfered with. 1983 Financial Times 25 Nov. 6/1 Mr. Frank Mitchell, federal secretary of the‥Australian Workers' Union (AWU), issued an immediate rebuff to Mr. Dolan, saying work would proceed. 1985 Business Week 2 Dec. 86/2 Technically known as azidothymidine (*AZT), the drug has been tested on only 20 patients at the National Cancer Institute and Duke University. 1987 Daily Tel. 19 Jan. 4/8 Researchers said patients tested with AZT had benefitted in many ways, including improved neurological functions and reduced instances of opportunistic infections. 1987 Sci. Amer. Apr. 75/1 The prospect of long-term use has‥heightened concerns about AZT's considerable toxicity to bone-marrow cells, the precursors of blood cells.

IV. Phrases.

1. A per se: the letter A when standing by itself, especially when making a word.
The word a was formerly spelt ‘a-per-se, a,’ that is, ‘a by itself makes the word a,’ whence also the letter itself was sometimes called A-per-se-A. So also I per se, O per se, &-per-se (and-per-se, an-per-se, ampersee).

b. Hence fig. (also formerly Apersie, Apersey, A per C) the first, chief, most excellent, most distinguished, or unique person or thing; one who is facile princeps, or in modern phrase, A 1.

1475 Henryson Test. of Cresseide 78 (Speght's Chaucer) The floure and A per se of Troie and Grece. a1500 MS. Cantab. Ff. ii. 38 f. 51 Thow schalt be an apersey, my sone, In mylys ij, or thre. 1501 Dunbar Poems, Supplt. (1865) 277 London, thowe arte of townes A per se. 1567 Drant Horace Epist. ii. i If they make them A per se Aes that none are like to them. 1578 Gude and Godlie Ballates 128 Christ Jesus is ane A per C, And peirlesse Prince of all mercy. 1602 Middleton Blurt iii. iii Who that is the a-per-se of all, the very cream of all.

2. A 1. Applied in Lloyd's Register to ships in first-class condition, as to hull and stores alike. ‘The character A denotes New ships, or Ships Renewed or Restored. The Stores of Vessels are designated by the figures 1 and 2; 1 signifying that the Vessel is well and sufficiently found.’—Key to the Register. Added to the names of ships, as ‘the fast-sailing ship “Sea-breeze”, A 1 at Lloyd's’, or used attributively, ‘the splendid A 1 clipper-built ship “Miranda”.’

Hence, fig. (familiar and savouring of commercial phraseology), A 1, or in U.S. A No. 1, is used adjectively for ‘prime, first-class’.

1837 Dickens Pickw. 341 (1847) ‘He must be a first-rater,’ said Sam. ‘A 1,’ replied Mr. Roker. 1851 Mrs. Stowe Dred i. 313 An A number one cook, and no mistake. 1861 Col. G. Wolseley in Reynolds' Newsp. Nov. 24 The Chinese police are certainly A 1 at such work.