alter

verb
al·​ter | \ ˈȯl-tər How to pronounce alter (audio) \
altered; altering\ ˈȯl-​t(ə-​)riŋ How to pronounce alter (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 alter (audio) \ noun
alterable \ ˈȯl-​t(ə-​)rə-​bəl How to pronounce alter (audio) \ adjective
alterably \ ˈȯl-​t(ə-​)rə-​blē How to pronounce alter (audio) \ adverb
alterer \ ˈȯl-​tər-​ər How to pronounce alter (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 Suns point guard Chris Paul knows firsthand how COVID-19 can alter the playoffs trajectory. David Brandt, Star Tribune, 16 July 2021 Google’s senior vice president for global affairs, Kent Walker, has also made calls to lawmakers in recent days, and the company’s top lobbyist, Mark Isakowitz, has weighed in on how the bills would alter how people use the internet. New York Times, 22 June 2021 But who is Ebrahim Raisi, and how would his presidency alter Iran’s domestic and foreign policies? Nader Habibi, The Conversation, 17 June 2021 And in the 17 months ahead, residents will likely be bombarded with arguments over how the change would alter Massachusetts. BostonGlobe.com, 9 June 2021 To figure out how these different structures might alter a feather’s appearance the researchers used optical modelling software to simulate how light played across their surfaces, according to the Times. Alex Fox, Smithsonian Magazine, 5 May 2021 Now, one of the first large studies with a proper control group has firmed up earlier evidence for how the virus can alter the course of pregnancy and harm mothers and their newborns. Jocelyn Kaiser, Science | AAAS, 22 Apr. 2021 The finding underscores the difficulty A.I. researchers have creating language systems that understand how context can alter the meaning of certain words. Jonathan Vanian, Fortune, 20 Apr. 2021 Williams has been testing different slider grips, using the Cubs’ pitch lab to get a more precise look at how the changes alter the baseball’s movement. Meghan Montemurro, chicagotribune.com, 5 Mar. 2021

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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Time Traveler for alter

Time Traveler

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

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Dictionary Entries Near alter

Altenburg

alter

alteration

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Statistics for alter

Last Updated

28 Jul 2021

Cite this Entry

“Alter.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/alter. Accessed 31 Jul. 2021.

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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

alter

transitive verb
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

More from Merriam-Webster on alter

Nglish: Translation of alter for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of alter for Arabic Speakers

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