alter

verb
al·​ter | \ ˈȯl-tər How to pronounce alter (audio) \
altered; altering\ ˈȯl-​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 \ ˈȯl-​t(ə-​)rə-​blē How to pronounce alterably (audio) \ adverb
alterer \ ˈȯl-​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

And now, scientists have provided the first evidence that all of this selective tweaking hasn't just changed dogs' sizes, shapes, colors and behaviors - it's also altered the way their brains are built. Jason Bittel, Anchorage Daily News, "As humans shaped dogs’ bodies, we also altered their brains," 3 Sep. 2019 Sunday’s show was altered because of clouds and light rain. Gus Chan, cleveland.com, "Cleveland National Air Show adjusts to weather, show goes on (photos)," 1 Sep. 2019 The field was expanded from 24 to 32, and qualifying rules were vastly altered largely to keep NBA and other pro-league players from helping their countries reach the event. Tim Reynolds, BostonGlobe.com, "Celtics quartet front and center as basketball World Cup begins," 30 Aug. 2019 Young girls’ feet were altered by being broken and bound in scarves to prevent them from growing. Vivian Rachelle, Quartz, "Japan’s #KuToo movement is fighting back against regressive dress codes for women," 29 Aug. 2019 Since then, anti-toll advocates, including Zeigler, have honed in on the MPO meetings to see if the plans can be altered. al, "Could the I-10 toll project be ‘killed’ this week?," 19 Aug. 2019 Its chassis and engine were borrowed from the KdF-Wagen, but the engine was altered slightly, boosting its output to 32 horsepower. Peter Valdes-dapena, CNN, "$17 million or $70 million? 1930s Porsche fails to sell after auction snafu," 18 Aug. 2019 Despite the drop in ridership, none of the system’s routes, which have faced planned cutbacks and cancellation in the past, are being altered or eliminated, Penny said. Colin Campbell, baltimoresun.com, "Charm City Circulator ridership plunges after bumpy transition to new operator," 15 Aug. 2019 That’s evidence — though not perfect evidence — that their subjective experience is altered by motivation. Brian Resnick, Vox, "How desire can warp our view of the world," 8 Aug. 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 alteren "to change, transform," borrowed from Anglo-French & Late Latin; Anglo-French alterer, borrowed from Late Latin alterāre, verbal derivative of Latin alter "second, another, next," derivative, with the suffix of opposition -ter-, from the base of alius "other" — more at else entry 1

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Statistics for alter

Last Updated

17 Sep 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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