alter

verb
al·​ter | \ ˈȯl-tər How to pronounce alter (audio) \
altered; altering\ -​t(ə-​)riŋ How to pronounce altering (audio) \

Definition of alter

transitive verb

1 : to make different without changing into something else an event that altered the course of history
2 : castrate, spay had the puppies altered

intransitive verb

: to become different customs that alter with the times

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Other Words from alter

alterability \ ˌȯl-​t(ə-​)rə-​ˈbi-​lə-​tē How to pronounce alterability (audio) \ noun
alterable \ ˈȯl-​t(ə-​)rə-​bəl How to pronounce alterable (audio) \ adjective
alterably \ -​blē How to pronounce alterably (audio) \ adverb
alterer \ -​tər-​ər How to pronounce alterer (audio) \ noun

Choose the Right Synonym for alter

change, alter, vary, modify mean to make or become different. change implies making either an essential difference often amounting to a loss of original identity or a substitution of one thing for another. changed the shirt for a larger size alter implies a difference in some particular respect without suggesting loss of identity. slightly altered the original design vary stresses a breaking away from sameness, duplication, or exact repetition. vary your daily routine modify suggests a difference that limits, restricts, or adapts to a new purpose. modified the building for use by the disabled

Examples of alter in a Sentence

Alcohol can alter a person's mood. He altered his will to leave everything to his sister. This one small event altered the course of history. The place has altered in the 10 years since I left. I'll need to have the dress altered before the wedding.
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Recent Examples on the Web

The official numbers were more accurate then; it’s been left to our faulty memories to alter the reality of that decade. Ed Wallace, star-telegram, "Myths and Numbers," 17 June 2018 But directors of other camps, including Camp Everytown, have no plans to alter future camps. San Francisco Chronicle, "A Retreat’s Risky Lessons," 14 June 2018 The researchers have already used the method in the laboratory to alter the abnormal immune cells of children with a rare genetic condition. Gina Kolata, New York Times, "Swift Gene-Editing Method May Revolutionize Treatments for Cancer and Infectious Diseases," 11 July 2018 Trump’s negotiations to alter the North American Free Trade Agreement with Mexico and Canada were bogged down for all of 2017 and still have not resulted in a new agreement. Brooks Jackson, Philly.com, "Trump's Numbers (Second Quarterly Update) | FactCheck," 11 July 2018 One person even offered fans $300 to alter the mural. Jenna West, SI.com, "Artist Paints Over LeBron James 'King of LA' Mural After Repeated Vandalism," 11 July 2018 The Department of Justice asked Gee to alter a 1997 settlement after the president reversed his zero-tolerance policy that caused uproar when children were taken from their parents in emotional scenes caught on camera. BostonGlobe.com, "Judge denies Trump request to detain migrant families together," 10 July 2018 There were six requests to alter the baseball tournament. Kyle Neddenriep, Indianapolis Star, "What would you change if you were IHSAA commissioner for a day?," 30 June 2018 Sure, your genetics could play a role, but those can’t be altered. Jessica Wapner, SELF, "How Worried Do You Really Need to Be About Your Screen Time?," 7 Feb. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'alter.' 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

14th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1

History and Etymology for alter

Middle English, from Medieval Latin alterare, from Latin alter other (of two); akin to Latin alius other — more at else

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Statistics for alter

Last Updated

14 Mar 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for alter

The first known use of alter was in the 14th century

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More Definitions for alter

alter

verb

English Language Learners Definition of alter

: to change (something)
: to make a change to (a piece of clothing) so that it will fit better
US : to remove the sex organs of (an animal) so that the animal is unable to reproduce

alter

verb
al·​ter | \ ˈȯl-tər How to pronounce alter (audio) \
altered; altering

Kids Definition of alter

: to change partly but not completely … each time he had altered his course.— Walter Farley, The Black Stallion
al·​ter | \ ˈȯl-tər\
altered; altering\ -​t(ə-​)riŋ \

Medical Definition of alter

 (Entry 1 of 2)

alter

noun

Medical Definition of alter (Entry 2 of 2)

: one of the distinct identities or personality states manifested in an individual with multiple personality disorder

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More from Merriam-Webster on alter

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with alter

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for alter

Spanish Central: Translation of alter

Nglish: Translation of alter for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of alter for Arabic Speakers

Comments on alter

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