alter

verb
al·​ter | \ ˈȯl-tər How to pronounce alter (audio) \
altered; altering\ ˈȯl-​t(ə-​)riŋ How to pronounce altering (audio) \

Definition of alter

transitive verb

1 : to make different without changing into something else an event that altered the course of history
2 : castrate, spay had the puppies altered

intransitive verb

: to become different customs that alter with the times

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Other Words from alter

alterability \ ˌȯl-​t(ə-​)rə-​ˈbi-​lə-​tē How to pronounce alterability (audio) \ noun
alterable \ ˈȯl-​t(ə-​)rə-​bəl How to pronounce alterable (audio) \ adjective
alterably \ ˈȯl-​t(ə-​)rə-​blē How to pronounce alterably (audio) \ adverb
alterer \ ˈȯl-​tər-​ər How to pronounce alterer (audio) \ noun

Choose the Right Synonym for 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

Examples of alter in a Sentence

Alcohol can alter a person's mood. He altered his will to leave everything to his sister. This one small event altered the course of history. The place has altered in the 10 years since I left. I'll need to have the dress altered before the wedding.
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Recent Examples on the Web Choosing whether to defer these major decisions could alter the course of our lives. Dory Carr-harris, WSJ, "Welcome to WSJ Noted.," 1 July 2020 The government accused the website of intentionally courting the prostitution business and working with pimps to alter the wording in advertisements to keep up a patina of deniability that Backpage knew what the ads were really for. Richard Ruelas, The Arizona Republic, "COVID-19 concerns push Backpage trial into 2021; judge rules it can't be conducted safely," 30 June 2020 The woman, Lori Vallow, was charged Monday with two felony counts of conspiracy to destroy, alter or conceal evidence, according to court documents. NBC News, "Lori Vallow faces new charges after children's remains found on husband's property," 30 June 2020 How To Rewire Your Brain ($12.99; udemy.com) claims to help students develop mental flexibility, change habits, stop procrastination and even alter memories, all based on our current understanding of how the brain works. CNN Underscored, "Level up your learning with online classes from Udemy," 28 June 2020 Citizens were encouraged to observe social distancing guidelines, but the strategy assumed Swedes would voluntarily alter their behavior without the need for laws. Niclas Rolander, Fortune, "Sweden’s COVID-19 architect discouraged face masks. Now, he’s reconsidering," 26 June 2020 Supervolcanoes have the ability to destroy entire regions and send enough ash and gas into the air to alter the climate. Shannon Hall, Scientific American, "Biggest Ever Yellowstone Eruption Revealed," 15 June 2020 Technology companies practice the science of exploiting data to alter human behavior—ideal for a state eager to engineer the loyalty of its people. Franklin Foer, The Atlantic, "Big Tech’s Pandemic Power Grab," 12 June 2020 Also, a new report says that an internet voting platform used in some states could be manipulated to alter votes. Rachel Glickhouse, ProPublica, "Electionland 2020: Georgia’s Chaotic Primary, NJ Mail Voting Problems, Election Legislation and More," 12 June 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'alter.' 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 alter

14th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1

History and Etymology for alter

Middle English alteren "to change, transform," borrowed from Anglo-French & Late Latin; Anglo-French alterer, borrowed from Late Latin alterāre, verbal derivative of Latin alter "second, another, next," derivative, with the suffix of opposition -ter-, from the base of alius "other" — more at else entry 1

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Time Traveler for alter

Time Traveler

The first known use of alter was in the 14th century

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Statistics for alter

Last Updated

3 Jul 2020

Cite this Entry

“Alter.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/alter. Accessed 10 Jul. 2020.

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More Definitions for alter

alter

verb
How to pronounce alter (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of alter

: to change (something)
: to make a change to (a piece of clothing) so that it will fit better
US : to remove the sex organs of (an animal) so that the animal is unable to reproduce

alter

verb
al·​ter | \ ˈȯl-tər How to pronounce alter (audio) \
altered; altering

Kids Definition of alter

: to change partly but not completely … each time he had altered his course.— Walter Farley, The Black Stallion
al·​ter | \ ˈȯl-tər \
altered; altering\ -​t(ə-​)riŋ \

Medical Definition of alter

 (Entry 1 of 2)

alter

noun

Medical Definition of alter (Entry 2 of 2)

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

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More from Merriam-Webster on alter

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for alter

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with alter

Spanish Central: Translation of alter

Nglish: Translation of alter for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of alter for Arabic Speakers

Comments on alter

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