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

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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.
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Recent Examples on the Web With far less attention and fanfare, the Torah Nucleus movement set out with an ideological mission to alter the balance of Israeli cities and promote its brand of Judaism inside the country. New York Times, 23 May 2021 Our research suggests there’s an easy and inexpensive way to support pregnant mothers that can alter neural reactivity to negative information and may serve to protect both maternal and child outcomes – simply help mom feel more supported. Rebecca Brooker, The Conversation, 12 May 2021 The ongoing pandemic will alter slightly the look and feel of the march for the foreseeable future. Pat Brennan, The Enquirer, 12 May 2021 In an era of extreme partisanship, Sinema has instead urged lawmakers to alter their behaviors and find common ground to advance legislation. Yvonne Wingett Sanchez, The Arizona Republic, 11 May 2021 Trump's efforts failed to alter trade imbalances and angered U.S. allies along with competitors such as China. Martin Crutsinger, Star Tribune, 4 May 2021 Its inception marked the start of the modern environmental movement, ultimately becoming a day of action aiming to alter environmentally harmful human behavior and create global changes in favor of Mother Earth. Melissa Lee, USA TODAY, 22 Apr. 2021 That reality will alter the basis of competition in every industry and steepen every commodity cost curve. Dickon Pinner, Fortune, 22 Apr. 2021 The controls can alter volume, skip and repeat tracks, as well as pause and play the music. Mark Sparrow, Forbes, 8 Apr. 2021

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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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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Statistics for alter

Last Updated

10 Jun 2021

Cite this Entry

“Alter.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/alter. Accessed 17 Jun. 2021.

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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
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

More from Merriam-Webster on alter

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for alter

Nglish: Translation of alter for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of alter for Arabic Speakers

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