Definition of “at” - English Dictionary

“at” in British English

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atpreposition

weak /ət/ uk strong /æt/ weak /ət/ us strong /æt/

at preposition (PLACE)

A1 used to show an exact position or particular place:

We'll meet you at the entrance.
That bit at the beginning of the film was brilliant.
She's sitting at the table in the corner.
She was standing at the top of the stairs.
The dog came and lay down at (= next to) my feet.
There's someone at the door (= someone is outside and wants to come in).
I enjoyed my three years at university.
I called her but she was at lunch (= away, eating her lunch).

More examples

  • Security checks have become really strict at the airport.
  • She works on the checkout at the local supermarket.
  • The two vans collided at the crossroads.
  • Why wasn't Stephen at the meeting, then?
  • Turn left at the traffic lights, and you'll see the hospital straight ahead.

at preposition (TIME)

A1 used to show an exact or a particular time:

There's a meeting at 2.30 this afternoon.
Are you free at lunchtime?
In theory, women can still have children at the age of 50.
The bells ring at regular intervals through the day.
At no time/point did the company do anything illegal.
I'm busy at the moment (= now) - can you call back later?
It's a shame I wasn't here to meet you - I was overseas at the time (= then).

More examples

  • People in Britain legally reach adulthood at 18.
  • Rioters hurled rocks and petrol bombs in clashes with police at the weekend.
  • My last class ends at 4 o'clock.
  • I always like to leave my desk clear at the end of the day.
  • I was married with four children at your age.

at preposition (DIRECTION)

A1 in the direction of:

She smiled at me.
They waved at us as we drove by.
She aimed at the target.
"Look at me! Look at me!" called the little girl.
He's always shouting at the children.

More examples

  • The old man clenched his fist and waved it angrily at us.
  • She could no longer contain her anger and shouted at him uncontrollably.
  • The talks are aimed at finding a mutually agreeable solution.
  • She darted an angry look at me and I shut up.
  • He fired six shots at the target, but his aim was terrible, and he missed all of them.

at preposition (CAUSE)

A2 used to show the cause of something, especially a feeling:

We were surprised at the news.
I was quite excited at the prospect.
Why does no one ever laugh at my jokes?

More examples

  • There was a chorus of disapproval at his words.
  • It was a courageous decision to resign in protest at the company's pollution record.
  • He looked very disappointed at their decision, but did not argue.
  • I cringed at the sight of my dad dancing.
  • We were all delighted at the news.

at preposition (ACTIVITY)

B1 used to show the activity in which someone's ability is being judged:

I was never very good at sports.
He's very good at getting on with people.
She's hopeless at organizing things.

More examples

  • I'm not much good at knitting .
  • Dave is normally very bad at remembering birthdays.
  • I expected her to be better at French after studying it for so many years.
  • Your mother's really brilliant at Scrabble.
  • You're even worse at maths than I am!

at preposition (EMAIL ADDRESS)

A1 the @ symbol that joins the name of a person or a department in an organization to a domain name to make an email address:

"What's your email address?" "It's dictionary at cambridge dot org."

More examples

  • Granddad wrote 'at' in the address instead of the @ symbol - that's why it didn't work.
  • Where is the key for 'at' on this keyboard?
  • You missed out the @ in your email address.
  • Hold down the shift key, otherwise you will type an inverted comma instead of an 'at' sign.
  • Alternatively, you can email your order to directcustserve@cambridge.org.

at preposition (AMOUNT)

B2 used to show a price, temperature, rate, speed, etc.:

I'm not going to buy those shoes at $150!
Inflation is running at 5 percent.
He was driving at 120 mph when the police spotted him.

usually @ used in financial records to show the price, rate, etc. of a particular thing or of each of a number of things on a list:

50 units @ £4.75

More examples

  • The costs of cleaning up the bay are estimated at $1 billion.
  • We sell a wide range of cosmetics and toiletries at a very reasonable price.
  • When you buy a new computer, you usually get software included at no extra cost .
  • With inflation at 500%, the country faces a crisis of confidence.
  • Water boils at 212° Fahrenheit and 100° Celsius/Centigrade.

at preposition (CONDITION)

used to show a state, condition, or continuous activity:

More examples

  • He felt completely at ease.
  • He says he's at peace when he's walking in the mountains.
  • Your father is hard at work in his study.
  • They've been at war for the last five years.
  • Of the ten men who escaped this morning from Dartmoor Prison, only two are still at liberty .

(Definition of “at” from the Cambridge Advanced Learner's Dictionary & Thesaurus © Cambridge University Press)

“at” in American English

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atpreposition

us /æt, ət/

at preposition (PLACE/TIME)

used to show a particular place or a particular time:

I’ll meet you at the theater at 7:45 tonight.
Call me at work.
There’s someone at the door (= outside the door).
I wasn’t here to meet you because I was in Detroit at the time (= then).

at preposition (DIRECTION)

in the direction of:

They waved at us as we drove by.
She aimed at the target, but missed.

at preposition (CAUSE)

used to show the cause of something, esp. a feeling:

I was so happy at the news.

at preposition (CONDITION)

used to show a state, condition, or continuous activity:

The country was at peace/war.
She was hard at work (= working hard).

at preposition (AMOUNT)

used to show a price, temperature, rate, speed, etc.:

They’re selling these coats at 30% off this week.

at preposition (JUDGMENT)

used to show the activity in which someone’s ability is being judged:

I’m really not very good at math.
Sheila is really terrible at getting to places on time.

at preposition (THE MOST)

used before a superlative:

I’m afraid we can only pay you $12 an hour at (the) most.
At best you’ll get to speak to some assistant – you’ll never reach anyone important.

(Definition of “at” from the Cambridge Academic Content Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)