Quantcast
Merriam-Webster Logo
  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
  • Scrabble
  • Spanish Central
  • Learner's Dictionary

alter

play
verb al·ter \ˈȯl-tər\

Simple Definition of alter

  • : to change (something)

  • : to make a change to (a piece of clothing) so that it will fit better

  • : to remove the sex organs of (an animal) so that the animal is unable to reproduce

Source: Merriam-Webster's Learner's Dictionary

Full Definition of alter

altered

altering

play \-t(ə-)riŋ\
  1. transitive verb
  2. 1 :  to make different without changing into something else

  3. 2 :  castrate, spay

  4. intransitive verb
  5. :  to become different

alterability

play \ˌȯl-t(ə-)rə-ˈbi-lə-tē\ noun

alterable

play \ˈȯl-t(ə-)rə-bəl\ adjective

alterably

play \-blē\ adverb

alterer

play \-tər-ər\ noun

Examples of alter in a sentence

  1. Alcohol can alter a person's mood.

  2. He altered his will to leave everything to his sister.

  3. This one small event altered the course of history.

  4. The place has altered in the 10 years since I left.

  5. I'll need to have the dress altered before the wedding.



Origin and Etymology of alter

Middle English, from Medieval Latin alterare, from Latin alter other (of two); akin to Latin alius other — more at else


First Known Use: 14th century

Synonym Discussion of alter

change, alter, vary, modify mean to make or become different. change implies making either an essential difference often amounting to a loss of original identity or a substitution of one thing for another <changed the shirt for a larger size>. alter implies a difference in some particular respect without suggesting loss of identity <slightly altered the original design>. vary stresses a breaking away from sameness, duplication, or exact repetition <vary your daily routine>. modify suggests a difference that limits, restricts, or adapts to a new purpose <modified the building for use by the disabled>.

Rhymes with alter


ALTER Defined for Kids

alter

play
verb al·ter \ˈȯl-tər\

Definition of alter for Students

altered

altering

  1. :  to change partly but not completely <… each time he had altered his course. — Walter Farley, The Black Stallion>




Medical Dictionary

1

alter

transitive verb al·ter \ˈȯl-tər\

Medical Definition of alter

altered

;

altering

\-t(ə-)riŋ\
  1. :  castrate 1, spay




2

alter

noun al·ter

Medical Definition of alter

  1. :  one of the distinct identities or personality states manifested in an individual with multiple personality disorder




Learn More about alter


Seen and Heard

What made you want to look up alter? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

WORD OF THE DAY

to destroy or remove completely

Get Word of the Day daily email!

WORD GAMES

Take a 3-minute break and test your skills!

two-chairs-on-a-pier-by-the-ocean-in-summer

Which of the following words means “of or relating to summer”?

hiemal estival vernal brumal
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

TAKE THE QUIZ
SCRABBLE® Sprint

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ