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From Middle English at, from Old English æt (at, near, by, toward), from Proto-Germanic *at (at, near, to), from Proto-Indo-European *ád (near, at). Cognate with Scots at (at), North Frisian äät, äit, et, it (at), Danish at (to), Faroese at (at, to, toward), Norwegian åt (to), Swedish åt (for, toward), Icelandic (to, towards), Gothic 𐌰𐍄 (at, at), Latin ad (to , near).




  1. In or very near a particular place.
    • 1992, Rudolf M. Schuster, The Hepaticae and Anthocerotae of North America: East of the Hundredth Meridian, volume V, page 4
      (b) sporophyte with foot reduced, the entire sporophyte enveloped by the calyptra, which is ± stipitate at the base.
    At that precise position, at Jim’s house.
  2. (indicating time) Simultaneous, during.
    • 2012 April 19, Josh Halliday, “Free speech haven or lawless cesspool – can the internet be civilised?”, the Guardian:
      Other global taboos, such as sex and suicide, manifest themselves widely online, with websites offering suicide guides and Hot XXX Action seconds away at the click of a button. The UK government will come under pressure to block access to pornographic websites this year when a committee of MPs publishes its report on protecting children online.
    At six o’clock, at closing time, at night.
  3. In the direction of (often in an unfocused or uncaring manner).
    He threw the ball at me, he shouted at her.
  4. Occupied in (activity).
    Men at work.
  5. Indicates a position on a scale or in a series.
    Sell at 90.
    Tiger finished the round at tenth, seven strokes behind the leaders.
    I'm offering it - just to select customers - at cost.
  6. Because of.
    Laugh at a joke.
  7. Holding a given speed or rate.
    It is growing at the rate of 3% a year.
    Cruising along at fifty miles per hour.
  8. In a state of.
    She is at sixes and sevens with him.
    They are at loggerheads over how best to tackle the fiscal cliff.
    The city was at the mercy of the occupying forces.
  9. (Ireland, stressed pronunciation) bothering, irritating, causing discomfort to
    • 1995 Keith Wood, quoted in David Hughes, "Wood odds-on to take one against the head", in The Independent (London) 18 January 1995:
      I think `Jesus, my back is at me'. Then I get the ball. Off you go for 10 yards and you don't feel a thing. Then you stop and think: `Jesus, it's at me again'[.]
    • 2014 Marian Keyes "Antarctic Diary - Part 2" personal website (January 2014):
      He seems to be saying. “Ah, go on, you’re making the other lads feel bad.” But the 4th fella says, “No. Don’t be ‘at’ me. I’m just not in the form right now, I’ll stay where I am, thanks.”

Usage notes[edit]

  • He threw the ball to me — (so I could catch it).
  • He threw the ball at me — (trying to hit me with it).
  • He talked to her — (conversationally).
  • He shouted at her — (aggressively).



at (plural ats)

  1. the @ symbol.