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

Thus, altering the world to keep Ophelia alive is no easy task. Todd Martens, Los Angeles Times, "What to play: In the ‘Hamlet’ remix ‘Elsinore,’ Ophelia is caught in a time loop," 9 Aug. 2019 Deforested beyond repair, the Amazon may not be able to recover and could significantly alter the world’s climate. Sarah Gibbens, National Geographic, "To save the planet, protect forests now, UN says," 8 Aug. 2019 And with gene editing, there's also the unlikely possibility of altering the wrong gene or cutting out more than necessary, Little added. Michael Nedelman And Minali Nigam, CNN, "Trial underway in US uses CRISPR gene-editing in people with severe sickle cell disease," 30 July 2019 The act expires at the end of this year, meaning the existing terms could be altered during a reauthorization of STELAR. Dallas News, "Can't watch Rangers games? Dish Network and Sling customers no longer have access to Fox Sports networks," 29 July 2019 The outcome could fundamentally alter the railroad industry. Aaron Pressman, Fortune, "Autonomous Trains Are Ready to Roll," 29 July 2019 There was a moment, early in Robert Mueller’s House Judiciary Committee testimony today, that stood at least a some small chance of altering the inexorable momentum against impeachment. David French, National Review, "Today, Impeachment Died Another Death," 24 July 2019 Abandoned prisons easily fell in line with that ethos, and so in order to save the costs of drastically altering or removing a building, prison museums began to open inside the former facilities. Jennifer Billock, Smithsonian, "Five of the Most Fascinating Prison Museums in America," 23 July 2019 Federal lawmakers, local officials and others have voiced concerns that Trump could alter the tone of what traditionally is a nonpartisan celebration of America’s independence from the British by delivering a political speech. Darlene Superville, Twin Cities, "Trump says tanks will be part of his July Fourth celebration," 2 July 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

15 Aug 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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