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

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Synonyms & Antonyms for alter ego


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


enemy, foe

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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

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 On May 27, James Hilton Harrell III joined in the bonds of matrimony with Diane Alone — his drag queen alter ego. Carolyne Zinko,, "A drag wedding, but not in the way you think," 5 July 2018 The Piggy Stardust tacos ($10.75), a riff on David Bowie’s alter ego, lean in the direction of the Yucatan Peninsula. James Patrick Kelly, idahostatesman, "Boise’s trendy new taquerias redefine the taco – and diners get to taste the difference," 27 June 2018 Quick backstory for the uninitiated: Father John Misty is the swaggering, hallucinogen-taking, loudmouthed alter ego of Josh Tillman, a persona that sprang to life from Tillman’s psyche after tripping on ayahuasca with a Canadian shaman. Robert Steiner,, "The confessions of Father John Misty," 30 May 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.

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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

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Statistics for alter ego

Last Updated

13 Sep 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for alter ego

The first known use of alter ego was in 1537

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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.

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