abecedarian \ay-bee-see-DAIR-ee-un\


  • of or relating to the alphabet
  • alphabetically arranged
  • rudimentary; elementary; primary.


  • a person who is learning the letters of the alphabet.
  • a beginner in any field of learning.

Origin: 1595-1605

Related to the Latin term “abecedarius” which means “of the alphabet”.  The word was pronounced ABC-darian.  In the 1600s “abecedarian” was a noun meaning “one learning the rudiments of something” and specifically referred to someone learning the alphabet.  The adjective started to appear in 1665.

More information:

The terms also applies to a 16th century German sect of Anabaptists who  effected a disdain for all human knowledge.  They believed that human learning would interfere with God giving them knowledge through visions and ecstasies.  They believed that in order to be saved they shouldn’t even know the first letters of the alphabet, which is how they got the name A-B-C-darians.

In the early 19th century in America A-B-C-darians, ABC-darians, or abecedarians were young scholars (students) in a typical one room school who were just learning their “a-b-c’s”.  The term also applied to someone teaching the alphabet.  By 1898 the term represented a bygone era and George Howland, superintendent of the Chicago Public Schools, declared:

“The days of the A-B-C-darians, and the three R’s— all! ah! and alas! —have happily gone by, and hard after them are following those to whom the ability to trace with index-finger, word by word, and line by line, the pupil’s progress down the page of the text-book, was enough”

In the late 1980’s there was a post punk trio band based in L.A. California with the name Abecedarians.

An Abecedarian Hymn is a hymn that begins with the letter A, and each clause or verse following begins with the next letter of the alphabet.  For example the Altus Prosator that is sung on All Saints Day.


Abecedarian (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abecedarian)

A-B-C-Darian (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A-b-c-darian)

Abecedarians (Band) (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abecedarians_%28band%29)

Abecedarian Hymn (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abecedarian_hymn)

Altus Prosator (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Altus_Prosator#Altus_Prosator)




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