Quantcast
Merriam-Webster Logo
  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
  • Medical
  • 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

Full Definition of alter

al·teredal·ter·ingplay \-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

al·ter·abil·i·ty play \ˌȯl-t(ə-)rə-ˈbi-lə-tē\ noun
al·ter·able play \ˈȯl-t(ə-)rə-bəl\ adjective
al·ter·ably play \-blē\ adverb
al·ter·er play \-tər-ər\ noun

Examples of alter

  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 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


Medical Dictionary

alter

play
transitive verb al·ter \ˈȯl-tər\

Medical Definition of alter

al·teredal·ter·ing \-t(ə-)riŋ\play

  1. :  castrate 1, spay





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

February 8, 2016

to clear from accusation or blame

Get Word of the Day daily email!

WORD GAMES

Take a 3-minute break and test your skills!

image1037863653

Which of the following refers to thin, bending ice, or to the act of running over such ice?

spindrift pince-nez duvet kittly-benders
Name That Thing

10 quick questions: hear them, spell them, and see how your skills compare to the crowd.

TAKE THE QUIZ
SCRABBLE® Sprint

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

TAKE THE QUIZ