alternative

adjective
al·​ter·​na·​tive | \ ȯl-ˈtər-nə-tiv How to pronounce alternative (audio) , al-\

Definition of alternative

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : offering or expressing a choice several alternative plans
2 : different from the usual or conventional: such as
a : existing or functioning outside the established cultural, social, or economic system an alternative newspaper alternative lifestyles
b : of, relating to, or being rock music that is regarded as an alternative to conventional rock and is typically influenced by punk rock, hard rock, hip-hop, or folk music an alternative band also : of, relating to, or being music of a genre other than rock that is similarly regarded as an alternative to the conventional music of that genre alternative country
c : of or relating to alternative medicine alternative therapies
3 : occurring or succeeding by turns : alternate sense 1

alternative

noun

Definition of alternative (Entry 2 of 2)

1a : a proposition or situation offering a choice between two or more things only one of which may be chosen a government facing the alternative of high taxes or poor highways
b : an opportunity for deciding between two or more courses or propositions the alternative of going by train or by plane
2a : one of two or more things, courses, or propositions to be chosen The menu offered several vegetarian alternatives.
b : something which can be chosen instead The only alternative to intervention.
3 : alternative rock music a fan of alternative

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Other Words from alternative

Adjective

alternatively adverb
alternativeness noun

Synonyms for alternative

Synonyms: Noun

choice, discretion, druthers [dialect], election, liberty, option, pick, preference, selection, volition, way

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Choose the Right Synonym for alternative

Noun

choice, option, alternative, preference, selection, election mean the act or opportunity of choosing or the thing chosen. choice suggests the opportunity or privilege of choosing freely. freedom of choice option implies a power to choose that is specifically granted or guaranteed. the option of paying now or later alternative implies a need to choose one and reject another possibility. equally attractive alternatives preference suggests a choice guided by one's judgment or predilections. a preference for cool weather selection implies a range of choice. a varied selection of furniture election implies an end or purpose which requires exercise of judgment. doing a tax return forces certain elections on you

Examples of alternative in a Sentence

Adjective

Scientists are developing an alternative approach to treating the disease. He developed an alternative design for the new engine.

Noun

We decided to leave since our only other alternative was to wait in the rain. I was offered no alternative. The menu offered several vegetarian alternatives.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

The towns have been studying options for alternative water sources such as drawing from the Fox River or bringing in Lake Michigan water. Linda Girardi, Aurora Beacon-News, "'Population boom' continuing for Oswego and Yorkville," 11 June 2019 They are largely viewed as less harmful than traditional paper-and-tobacco cigarettes and some adult smokers use them as an alternative source of nicotine. NBC News, "FDA warns vaping companies about using social media 'influencers'," 7 June 2019 The company’s Green Options Team researches and implements environmentally friendly initiatives in several areas: energy efficiency, alternative power sources, sustainable design, recycling and more. Jessica Levy, Cincinnati.com, "Phillips Edison supports local communities while supporting its bottom line," 7 June 2019 Kids of all ages were turning their passions and skills into making education more accessible, creating diagnostic tests for the Ebola virus, inventing alternative power sources, and so much more! Yara Shahidi, Teen Vogue, ""Yes She Can" Is the Yara Shahidi-Approved Collection of Stories From Young Women Staffers of the Obama White House," 14 Jan. 2019 Let’s hope the festival makes alternative plans to fill this new programming gap. Jeremy Eichler, BostonGlobe.com, "Tanglewood toasts Leonard Bernstein in a summer-long tribute," 18 May 2018 Yesterday an appeals court refused to let Alfie's parents take him to Italy which is offering him an alternative treatment and citizenship. Fox News, "Nigel Farage talks Alfie Evans and Britain's medical system," 28 Apr. 2018 Farrah later decided to split time between her California home and a clinic in Germany that provided alternative treatments, Vanity Fair reported. Megan Stein, Country Living, "Inside Farrah Fawcett's Heartbreaking Cancer Battle," 24 May 2019 Our take: The Playdate is great news for gamers looking for an alternative innovation fix in the handheld realm. Brittany Vincent, Popular Mechanics, "What Could This New Handheld System Mean for the Future of Gaming?," 23 May 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

But the breadth of games in development includes many creations that will offer players an alternative from the typical wave of action-adventures and online battles. Mike Snider, USA TODAY, "E3 2019: Seek out these off-the-wall video games for experiences beyond the norm," 14 June 2019 As birth control, Depo-Provera appeared to be the most effective alternative and to have the fewest side effects; users of the IUD became pregnant slightly more often. New York Times, "Depo-Provera, an Injectable Contraceptive, Does Not Raise H.I.V. Risk," 13 June 2019 The plan, said SW/TCH co-founder Pace Ralli, is to partner with large employers to offer a pollution-free alternative to gas-guzzling shuttles. Erin Baldassari, The Mercury News, "Nation’s first hydrogen fuel cell ferry to transport commuters across San Francisco Bay in early 2020," 12 June 2019 She was offered an alternative: drug court, an intensive 18-month process that involves counseling sessions and judicial review of treatment, but no jail. Livia Gershon, Longreads, "Peers in Healing," 10 June 2019 Glass water bottles aren't just an eco-friendly alternative to drinking out of single-use plastic. Olivia Harrison, refinery29.com, "11 Irresistibly Chic Glass Water Bottles For Every Type Of Hydrator," 10 June 2019 From the African point of view, Russia offers a strategic alternative to America’s global hegemony, China’s economic diplomacy, and the lingering influence of Africa’s former colonial masters. János Besenyő, Quartz Africa, "Russia is vying to offer African countries a credible alternative to the US and China," 4 June 2019 Offering alternatives to the state's mandated lifetime catastrophic injury protection is a big cost reduction driver. Alexander Stoklosa, Car and Driver, "Michigan's Auto Insurance Premiums, Highest in the Nation, Targeted by Bipartisan Deal," 24 May 2019 The backlash against single-use plastic has engulfed straws, bags and takeout containers, but the plastics industry is fighting back, arguing alternatives can be worse for the environment and disruptive for businesses. Saabira Chaudhuri, WSJ, "In Plastic-Bag Wars, the Industry Fights Back," 20 May 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'alternative.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of alternative

Adjective

1540, in the meaning defined at sense 3

Noun

1576, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for alternative

Adjective

see alternate entry 1

Noun

see alternate entry 1

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Statistics for alternative

Last Updated

17 Jun 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for alternative

The first known use of alternative was in 1540

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More Definitions for alternative

alternative

adjective

English Language Learners Definition of alternative

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: offering or expressing a choice
: not usual or traditional
: existing or functioning outside of the established society

alternative

noun

English Language Learners Definition of alternative (Entry 2 of 2)

: something that can be chosen instead of something else : a choice or option

alternative

adjective
al·​ter·​na·​tive | \ ȯl-ˈtər-nə-tiv How to pronounce alternative (audio) \

Kids Definition of alternative

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: offering or expressing a choice alternative plans

Other Words from alternative

alternatively adverb I'll drive or, alternatively, we could walk.

alternative

noun

Kids Definition of alternative (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : a chance to choose between two things We had to move. There was no alternative.
2 : one of the things between which a choice is to be made As it got dark, our best alternative was to find shelter.

alternative

adjective
al·​ter·​na·​tive | \ ȯl-ˈtər-nət-iv, al- How to pronounce alternative (audio) \

Medical Definition of alternative

: of, relating to, or based on alternative medicine alternative therapies

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alternative

adjective
al·​ter·​na·​tive | \ ȯl-ˈtər-nə-tiv, al- How to pronounce alternative (audio) \

Legal Definition of alternative

 (Entry 1 of 2)

2 : offering or expressing a choice an alternative contract — see also alternative pleading at pleading sense 1b
3 : existing or functioning outside the established system also : different from the usual or conventional alternative sentencing

alternative

noun

Legal Definition of alternative (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : a proposition or situation offering a choice between two or more things only one of which may be chosen
2a : one of two or more things, courses, or propositions to be chosen
b : something which can be chosen instead
in the alternative
1 : for or as an alternative asked for specific performance, or in the alternative, damages of $20,000 a new trial may be asked for in the alternative
2 : in such a way that offers a choice the relief sought…may include relief in the alternativeFederal Rules of Civil Procedure Rule 8(a) plead in the alternative

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Comments on alternative

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