alter

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

Other Words from alter

alterability \ ˌȯl-​t(ə-​)rə-​ˈbi-​lə-​tē How to pronounce alter (audio) \ noun
alterable \ ˈȯl-​t(ə-​)rə-​bəl How to pronounce alter (audio) \ adjective
alterably \ ˈȯl-​t(ə-​)rə-​blē How to pronounce alter (audio) \ adverb
alterer \ ˈȯl-​tər-​ər How to pronounce alter (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.
Recent Examples on the Web Thankfully, unlike Wednesday night, there were no rain showers to halt the show or alter the track conditions. Rob Peeters, The Indianapolis Star, 6 Aug. 2022 Further, the bill limits what a state can do even in the case of a catastrophic event: state legislatures could only extend or alter the voting period. Grace Segers, The New Republic, 4 Aug. 2022 The idea that the COVID mRNA vaccines alter one’s DNA persists. Dr. Keith Roach, oregonlive, 4 Aug. 2022 But there's no reason to believe that either of these pressure tactics -- absent incentives -- would fundamentally alter Iran's calculations. Aaron David Miller, CNN, 4 Aug. 2022 Architectural decisions that alter how people interact with each other in space can also play a role. Colin Lodewick, Fortune, 1 Aug. 2022 Electric motorcycles, cars, trucks, and vans are legally mandated to replace all internal-combustion-engine (I.C.E.) vehicles in New York, L.A., and other cities by mid-century—a shift that will profoundly alter the acoustic texture of urban life. John Seabrook, The New Yorker, 1 Aug. 2022 Big projects can involve big flows of energy and matter, so plausibly someday human engineering will alter the solar system in ways that a Webb-like instrument could detect from afar. Frank Wilczek, WSJ, 30 July 2022 For screenwriters Ron Bass and Alice Winslow, who collaborated on the adaptation, the goal wasn’t to alter Austen’s intention or story. Emily Zemler, Los Angeles Times, 15 July 2022 See More

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.

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

Learn More About alter

Time Traveler for alter

Time Traveler

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

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Dictionary Entries Near alter

Altenburg

alter

alteration

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Statistics for alter

Last Updated

9 Aug 2022

Cite this Entry

“Alter.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/alter. Accessed 19 Aug. 2022.

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More Definitions for alter

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

alter

transitive verb
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 dissociative identity disorder

More from Merriam-Webster on alter

Nglish: Translation of alter for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of alter for Arabic Speakers

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