A to abd
A This letter is modified from the Hebrew (aleph = an ox), which was meant to indicate the outline of
an ox's head.
A1 means first-rate - the very best. In Lloyd's Register of British and Foreign Shipping, the character of the ship's hull is designated by letters, and that of the anchors, cables, and stores by figures. A1 means hull first-rate, and also anchors, cables, and stores; A2, hull first-rate, but furniture second-rate. Vessels of an inferior character are classified under the letters Æ, E, and I.
"She is a prime girl, she is; she is A1."- Sam Slick.A.B (See Able.)
A.B.C = Aerated Bread Company.
A B C Book A primer, a book in which articles are set in alphabetical order, as the A B C Railway Guide. The old Primers contained the Catechism, as is evident from the lines: -
"That is question now;A.B.C. Process (The) of making artificial manure. An acrostic of Alum, Blood, Clay, the three chief ingredients.
A.E.I.O.U The device adopted by Frederick V, Archduke of Austria (the Emperor Frederick III. - 1440-- 1493).
Austria Est Imperare Orbi Universo.To which wags added after the war of 1866,
Austria's Emperor Is Ousted Utterly.Frederick II of Prussia is said to have translated the motto thus: -
"Austria Erit In Orbe Ultima" (Austria will one day be lowest in the world).A.U.C Anno urbis conditæ (Latin), "from the foundation of the city" - i.e., Rome.
Aaron An Aaron's serpent. Something so powerful as to swallow up minor powers. - Exodus vii. 10-- 12.
Ab Ab ovo. From the very beginning. Stasinos, in the epic poem called the Little Iliad, does not rush in medias res, but begins with the eggs of Leda, from one of which Helen was born. If Leda had not laid this egg, Helen would never have been born. If Helen had not been born, Paris could not have eloped with her. If Paris had not eloped with Helen, there would have been no Trojan War, etc.
Ab ovo usque ad mala. From the first dish to the last. A Roman coena (dinner) consisted of three parts. The first course was the appetiser, and consisted chiefly of eggs, with stimulants; the second was the "dinner proper;" and the third the dessert, at which mala (i.e., all sorts of apples, pears, quinces, pomegranates, and so on) formed the most conspicuous part. - Hor. Sat. I. iii. 5.
Aback I was taken aback - I was greatly astonished - taken by surprise - startled. It is a sea term. A ship is "taken aback" when the sails are suddenly carried by the wind back against the mast, instantly staying the ship's progress - very dangerous in a strong gale.
Abacus A small frame with wires stretched across it. Each wire contains ten movable balls, which can be shifted backwards or forwards, so as to vary ad libitum the number in two or more blocks. It is used to teach children addition and subtraction. The ancient Greeks and Romans employed it for calculations, and so do the Chinese. The word is derived from the Phoen. abak (dust); the Orientals used tables covered with dust for ciphering and diagrams. In Turkish schools this method is still used for teaching writing. The multiplication table invented by Pythagoras is called Abacus Pythagoricus. (Latin, abacus)
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