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

Synonyms & Antonyms for alter ego



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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 The six-episode series stars newcomer Iman Vellani as the title superhero, whose alter ego, Kamala Khan, was first introduced by Marvel Comics in 2013 as a teen who idolized Captain Marvel. Amber Dowling, Variety, 21 Mar. 2022 But on the other side is Miles, a moody introvert with a poetic nature who resents the coarse ways his alter ego has exploited his true passions. Sam Sacks, WSJ, 4 Mar. 2022 The sequence helps drives home the point this is a crime thriller and detective story, with Bruce Wayne treated every bit as interestingly as his masked alter ego. Mark Hughes, Forbes, 30 Jan. 2022 Ruth, the eldest, is moody, beautiful, indolent, and mysterious; Carolyn, nicknamed Corky, is a square striver and a good golfer; Douglas, Connell’s alter ego, is indelible as one of the most authentic specimens of boyhood in American fiction. Gemma Sieff, Harper’s Magazine , 4 Jan. 2022 Myint, whose alter ego is a drag queen named Suzy Wong, comes back to how his parents always lifted him up — conjuring images of an idyllic home life that many are searching for at the Friendsgiving table. New York Times, 22 Nov. 2021 The Cage onscreen in Talent is a construct, albeit one who seems to share his real-life alter ego's taste for grand dojo hand gestures and kumquat-sized cocktail rings. Leah Greenblatt,, 15 Apr. 2022 The clip in question reintroduces Lyonne’s onscreen alter ego Nadia Vulvokov, who’s emerged from the first season’s purgatorial storyline only to find herself transported back to 1980s New York. Angelique Jackson, Variety, 9 Apr. 2022 Prince recorded the album Camille back in 1986, pitching his voice higher to portray the album's title character, a feminine alter ego. Rachel Desantis,, 16 Mar. 2022 See More

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.

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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The first known use of alter ego was in 1537

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Dictionary Entries Near alter ego

altered chord

alter ego

alter idem

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Last Updated

6 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Alter ego.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 24 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for alter ego

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

More from Merriam-Webster on alter ego

Nglish: Translation of alter ego for Spanish Speakers Encyclopedia article about alter ego


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