alter ego

al·ter ego | \ˌȯl-tər-ˈē-(ˌ)gō also -ˈe-(ˌ)gō \
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

Keep scrolling for more

Synonyms & Antonyms for alter ego


amigo, buddy, chum, compadre, comrade, confidant, confidante, crony, familiar, friend, intimate, pal


enemy, foe

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

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

This bizarre device never fails to get a laugh or punctuate the absurdity of Cash’s meteoric rise after embracing his white alter ego. J.r. Kinnard, The Seattle Times, "‘Sorry to Bother You’: a fearless satire on race and the ultimate sellout," 2 July 2018 For the occasion, Parker channeled her on-screen alter ego Carrie Bradshaw in a flirty floral Maje dress. Edward Barsamian, Vogue, "Sarah Jessica Parker Has a Carrie Bradshaw Moment in the City," 13 June 2018 In the history of rock-star alter egos, from Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust to Beyonce’s Sasha Fierce, none had been inspired by a fingernail. Jessi Roti,, "Life outside of The Strokes is still noisy for Albert Hammond Jr.," 28 Mar. 2018 That buys a lot of credibility with Trump's reality show host alter ego. Eric Talmadge, Fox News, "Analysis: Tactics Kim may use in US-North Korea summit," 10 June 2018 Of course, the idea of choosing a name isn’t just for the baby; several episodes later, Phoebe reveals for the first time her alter ego: Regina Phalange. Vanessa Golembewski, Glamour, "Have You Noticed They're Always Reading on Friends? Yes, Even Joey," 2 July 2018 Anders introduced Michael’s Facebook alter ego to two traffickers, who then invited him to join their private groups. Issie Lapowsky, WIRED, "Tusks, Horns, and Claws: The Fight to Dismantle the Facebook Animal Parts Bazaar," 5 June 2018 After a short scene featuring the character at the movie’s very beginning, Bruce Banner can’t seem to get his green alter ego to emerge anymore, for what seem like pointed reasons the big guy won’t share. Alex Abad-santos, Vox, "9 questions about Avengers: Infinity War and its ending, answered," 30 Apr. 2018 The double murder of Wayne’s parents, which led him to adopt the alter ego of Batman, is always present in his subconscious, eating at him. Ryan P. Smith, Smithsonian, "What the Batmobile Tells Us About the American Dream," 16 Jan. 2018

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.

See More

First Known Use of alter ego

1537, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for alter ego

Latin, literally, second I

Latin, literally, second I

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about alter ego

Statistics for alter ego

Last Updated

11 Oct 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for alter ego

The first known use of alter ego was in 1537

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for alter ego

alter ego


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 \

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.

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on alter ego

What made you want to look up alter ego? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


lying above or upon

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Words from Greek and Roman Mythology Quiz

  • the-triumph-of-venus-by-alessandro-magnasco
  • Boreal comes from the name of the ancient Greek god of which wind?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?


Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.


Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!