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 Her alter ego, a blond-haired débutante named Priscilla Rich, binds Wonder Woman with not ten, not a hundred, but more than a thousand links of chain. Jill Lepore, The New Yorker, "Does “Wonder Woman 1984” Hide Its Hero’s True Superpowers?," 25 Dec. 2020 Chip Chrome is Rutherford's alter ego in all senses of the world. Devon Abelman, Allure, "Chip Chrome, The Neighbourhood’s Knight in Shining Makeup," 21 Dec. 2020 Chilean singer-songwriter Mon Laferte became everyone's quarantine alter ego with her encouraging track that is a dose of self-love and empowerment. Billboard Staff, Billboard, "The 25 Best Latin Songs of 2020: Staff Picks," 16 Dec. 2020 The ruse, prosecutors say, was part of a far-right plot to carry out one or several assassinations that could be blamed on his refugee alter ego and set off enough civil unrest to bring down the Federal Republic of Germany. New York Times, "A Far-Right Terrorism Suspect With a Refugee Disguise: The Tale of Franco A.," 29 Dec. 2020 In this next chapter, Wonder Woman's alter ego, Diana Prince, works as a curator at the Smithsonian, in Washington, DC. Lisa Respers France, CNN, "How celebrities like D-Nice and Taylor Swift lifted our spirits this year," 25 Dec. 2020 Marvel’s Tony Stark, Iron Man’s arms-manufacturing alter ego, created in 1963, made most sense during the Vietnam War. Jill Lepore, The New Yorker, "Does “Wonder Woman 1984” Hide Its Hero’s True Superpowers?," 25 Dec. 2020 Maggie Cheung, Leslie Cheung, Faye Wong, and above all Tony Leung, who frequently serves as a kind of alter ego, appear and reappear in different combinations across his works. Lidija Haas, The New Republic, "Wong Kar-wai’s Masterpieces of Political Uncertainty," 2 Dec. 2020 The giant diptych places the artist’s alter ego, a cross-dressing figure called Miss Chief Eagle Testickle, at the center of unsettling riffs on European colonization narratives. Washington Post, "America needs an epic narrative right now. Painters are working on it.," 28 Nov. 2020

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 2021

Cite this Entry

“Alter ego.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 27 Jan. 2021.

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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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