Definition - A standardized set of letters or symbols that is used for visual communication.

1. To be a true alphabet the set must contain separate letters for both consonants and vowels (i.e. not just consonants and diacritics). For example, an abjad is a type of writing system where there are graphemes for consonants but not for vowels, hence it is not an alphabet.
2. For a cool graphical demonstration of the evolution of the Latin character set, click here

Etymology -
The word derives via Late Latin from the Greek alphabetos, which in turn was coined by combining the Greek words alpha and beta, the first two letters of the Greek alphabet.

Oxford English Dictionary -
Its first citation is from 1580:
"This common vsuall order in our Alphabet or crosrowe."
(Baret Alv. A., )

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