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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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 film does include a young Bruce Wayne (Dante Pereira-Olson), but flips the order in which the characters’ alter egos are created, having Joker’s transformation into a public menace spur a riot that ends with Bruce’s parents getting murdered. David Sims, The Atlantic, "The Comic That Explains Where Joker Went Wrong," 7 Oct. 2019 Before long, Layla has assumed not one by two alter egos and is lying to everyone in her orbit — though with good intentions. Matthew J. Palm,, "Cast charms in ‘How to Marry a Divorced Man’ | Review," 2 Aug. 2019 His images suggest less the efforts of a mimic than the bliss of someone who has at last unleashed his brawling alter egos. Eren Orbey, The New Yorker, "A Photographer’s Elaborate Transformations in His Childhood Bedroom," 18 July 2019 Nothing was more emblematic of that than his role as Wildfire Ready Raccoon, the local fire council’s mascot and Phil’s alter ego. Lizzie Johnson,, "‘He tried to make Paradise all its name implied’: Long after the Camp Fire, resident’s death opens wounds," 21 June 2019 In the long history of novelists and their doubles, doppelgängers, and alter egos, few have given more delighted attention to the problem of multiplicity than the Argentine novelist Ricardo Emilio Piglia Renzi. Adam Thirlwell, The New York Review of Books, "Adam Thirlwell," 25 Oct. 2018 Peter Parker’s quest to solve his parents’ disappearance puts him on a collision course with a scientist’s deadly alter ego, the Lizard. Los Angeles Times, "Movies on TV this week Sept. 1 - 7, 2019: John Wayne in ‘The Searchers’ and more," 30 Aug. 2019 As Shona, Horgan gets to be gentler and nervier than her transcendently manic Catastrophe alter ego, worrying nonstop and constantly tracking her sister’s location via iPhone. Sophie Gilbert, The Atlantic, "This Way Up Is a Bountiful Binge Watch," 22 Aug. 2019 The cockatoo is named Sugar; George is its alter ego. Harper's magazine, "Letters," 16 Sep. 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

6 Dec 2019

Cite this Entry

“Alter ego.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 11 December 2019.

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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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