I find the articles of New York Times’ columnist, Maureen Dowd, a treasure house of English expressions unfamiliar to non-native English learners. It’s stud with knotty expressions and new words to me. In her article titled Dystopia and Alpha (August 2), I stumbled on the word alpha in the beginning line
President Obama was on the way to Alpha when a plea came for him to be, well, more alpha.
The first Alpha is obviously the name of a town in Illinois, but what does the second alpha mean? Is it used as a noun, or adjective?
I checked the Cambridge Dictionary to find the meaning of alpha and simply found its definition as ‘the first letter of the Greek alphabet.’ Aside the same definition, Merriam-Webster provides the meanings as adjectives:
(1) closed in the structure of an organic molecule to a particular group of atom
(2) socially dominant, especially in a group of animals.