alter ego

al·​ter ego | \ ˌȯl-tər-ˈē-(ˌ)gō How to pronounce alter ego (audio) also -ˈe-(ˌ)gō How to pronounce alter ego (audio) \
plural alter egos

Definition of alter ego

1 : a second self or different version of oneself: such as
a : a trusted friend
b : the opposite side of a personality Clark Kent and his alter ego Superman
c : counterpart sense 3 a fictional character that is the author's alter ego
2 law : a person or entity vicariously liable for another (such as an agent) … because the Cuban bank had not physically participated in the expropriation, it could not be considered an alter ego of the Government in the context of the Citibank case.The New York Times

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Synonyms & Antonyms for alter ego



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Did You Know?

In Latin, alter ego literally means "second I". An alter ego can be thought of as a person's clone or second self. A professional alter ego might be a trusted aide who knows exactly what the boss wants done. A personal alter ego might be a close friend who is almost like a twin. Alter ego can also refer to the second, hidden side of one's own self. In Robert Louis Stevenson's classic The Strange Case of Doctor Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Dr. Jekyll is a good-hearted, honorable man; but after taking a potion, his alter ego, the loathsome and diabolical Mr. Hyde, takes over his personality.

Examples of alter ego in a Sentence

a trusted adviser who is the President's alter ego over the years the state's other senator became his alter ego as well as his political ally
Recent Examples on the Web These artworks echo the style of Europe’s Old Masters, but quite unlike paintings of centuries past, the new pieces depict the gender-fluid, time-traveling alter ego of an indigenous artist. Brigit Katz, Smithsonian, "At the Met, Two New Monumental Paintings Foreground the Indigenous Experience," 19 Dec. 2019 Richly layered and subtly disturbing, it is carried by great performances, including Lucas Hedges and a young Noah Jupe as LaBoeuf’s alter ego at ages 22 and 12. Bill Goodykoontz, azcentral, "Here are The Republic's 10 best-reviewed films of 2019," 30 Dec. 2019 Democrats, on the other hand, are still in search of a plan for dealing with Trump’s alter ego, President Stump. David Von Drehle, Twin Cities, "David Von Drehle: Trump without the Trumpiness would win reelection in a landslide," 3 Nov. 2019 The set was shabby and starkly lit so that the characters’ menacing shadows on the wall acted like alter egos. Washington Post, "Russell Thomas headlines bleak ‘Otello’ at WNO," 27 Oct. 2019 Her alter ego, acclaimed writer-performer Daniel Alexander Jones, returns to his native Massachusetts with the show, which plays Oberon in Cambridge through September 29., "Drag Time," 14 Sep. 2019 Klein has no eyes for anyone but himself and his alter ego, and those eyes are the color of a winter sea. Anthony Lane, The New Yorker, "The Hour of Reckoning Descends in “Mr. Klein”," 30 Aug. 2019 During the day, Ho is a more pared-down version of her nightlife alter ego. Whitney Wei, Vogue, "This Stylish Berlin DJ Is Mixing Chinese Cybergoth With Ball Culture," 29 Aug. 2019 That is the challenge facing Egyptian-American comedian Ramy Youssef’s alter ego in the semi-autobiographical series Ramy. Judy Berman, Time, "The Best New TV Characters of 2019," 6 Dec. 2019

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

1537, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for alter ego

borrowed from Latin alter egō "close friend," literally "other I," perhaps as translation of Greek állos egṓ, héteros egṓ

Note: Cf. M. Tullius cicero, Letters to Atticus 3.15.4.: "…me enim ipsum multo magis accuso, deinde te quasi me alterum et simul meae culpae socium quaero." ("I am reproaching myself far more than you, and if I do reproach you it is as my alter ego; also I am looking for someone to share the blame" - translation by D. R. Shackleton Bailey.)

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Time Traveler for alter ego

Time Traveler

The first known use of alter ego was in 1537

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Statistics for alter ego

Last Updated

18 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Alter ego.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 25 January 2020.

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More Definitions for alter ego

alter ego

How to pronounce alter ego (audio) How to pronounce alter ego (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of alter ego

: a different version of yourself
: a close friend who thinks or feels similarly to the way you think or feel

alter ego

al·​ter ego | \ ˈȯl-tər-ˈē-gō How to pronounce alter ego (audio) \

Legal Definition of alter ego

: second self especially : a person or entity vicariously liable for another (as an agent) had the officer been the alter ego of the corporation — J. J. White and R. S. Summers — compare instrumentality

Note: The concept of a legal alter ego is used primarily to hold the controlling parties of a corporation personally liable instead of limiting liability to the corporate entity.

History and Etymology for alter ego

Latin, literally, second I

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