alter

verb
al·​ter | \ ˈȯl-tər \
altered; altering\ -​t(ə-​)riŋ \

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 \ noun
alterable \ ˈȯl-​t(ə-​)rə-​bəl \ adjective
alterably \ -​blē \ adverb
alterer \ -​tər-​ər \ 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

After one Twitter user decided to photoshop muscular arms onto Kim Kardashian's body, the reality TV star's buff alter-ego was born. Erica Gonzales, Harper's BAZAAR, "22 Memes That Made 2018 Less Horrible," 17 Dec. 2018 On the first floor, Erika Girardi—better known as dazzling pop icon, alter-ego Erika Jayne—is eyeballing every glittering heel on the Balenciaga display and reminiscing about her life before the spotlight. Vogue, "Watch Erika Jayne’s Unexpected—And Unforgettable—Night at Neiman’s," 5 Dec. 2018 On the flip side, an increase in body fat can also alter your estrogen levels, causing a late period. Caroline Picard, Good Housekeeping, "8 Reasons for a Late Period Besides Pregnancy, According to an OB/GYN," 30 Nov. 2018 An old battery or a faulty charging system could alter the equation. Ray Magliozzi, courant.com, "Car Talk: It's Safe To Use Seat Heaters If Stranded In Snow," 11 July 2018 The long boom that continues to wash across San Francisco alters the landscape in ways that aren’t confined to the South of Market skyline or the stocky boxes of housing that replace gas stations on strips like Van Ness Avenue. John King, SFChronicle.com, "Well-crafted Jackson Square condos rich in design inspiration," 2 July 2018 At a press conference announcing the new guidelines, a reporter asked Ms. Elia what would happen if a yeshiva didn’t alter its Jewish-studies emphasis to conform to her mandate. Elya Brudny And Yisroel Reisman, WSJ, "New York State Targets Jewish Schools," 13 Dec. 2018 While each of these mobility options alters Fortnite in their own right, planes change the feel of the game more fundamentally than anything that came before it. Patricia Hernandez, The Verge, "Fortnite adds planes and now people are playing it like Battlefield," 6 Dec. 2018 The current owners bought the home in 1980 from the original owners and haven’t altered the house much. Megan Barber, Curbed, "Untouched midcentury modern gem asks $535K," 18 Sep. 2018

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

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Statistics for alter

Last Updated

3 Jan 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for alter

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

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More Definitions for alter

alter

verb

English Language Learners 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

alter

verb
al·​ter | \ ˈȯl-tər \
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

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with alter

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for alter

Spanish Central: Translation of alter

Nglish: Translation of alter for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of alter for Arabic Speakers

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