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 actor admits that the experience can sometimes alter how adult McGee sees his own career. Jennifer Aldrich, Country Living, "'NCIS' Is Revealing More Details About McGee's Troubled Past With His Father," 19 Feb. 2019 Reagan appointed Mark Fowler as FCC chairman in 1981, and Fowler would wind up massively altering the world of toy advertising. Maude Campbell, Popular Mechanics, "Yo, Joe: How a 12-Inch Soldier Doll Became a Toy Legend," 9 Apr. 2019 Sufficiently high levels of lithium result in the transfer of an electron to molybdenum (which in turn alters the structure of the material) and a boost of its conductance. John Timmer, Ars Technica, "Researchers make RAM from a phase change we don’t entirely understand," 18 Dec. 2018 Television stations also are barred from censoring or altering the content of any political ad. Brooke Singman, Fox News, "Georgia candidate Kemp triggers uproar with shotgun ad," 2 Oct. 2018 Amid all of her Khloé Kardashian and Tristan Thompson cheating scandal ~drama~, Jordyn Woods has done what so, so many women before her have done during times of world-altering life changes: She's gotten a major haircut. Kayleigh Roberts, Marie Claire, "Jordyn Woods Chops Her Hair Into a Blunt Bob Amid Khloé Kardashian/Tristan Thompson Drama," 9 Mar. 2019 Those sites will also have to educate users on the advantages of using WebAuthn, and alter their login pages and the like. Mark Hachman, PCWorld, "WebAuthn: What you need to know about the future of the passwordless Web," 7 Mar. 2019 Long term exposure to chemicals in air fresheners can cause damage to the lungs, kidneys, central nervous system, and can even alter the body's hormones, which increases an individuals risk of cancer and can cause reproductive issues. Lindsey Campbell, House Beautiful, "19 Dangerous Household Items You Should Quit Using Immediately," 15 Feb. 2019 The photo on the left shows Iskra unretouched, while the one on the right has been altered with Facetune. Brittney Mcnamara, Teen Vogue, "Iskra Lawrence Side By Side Instagram Post Shows Effects of Photo Editing," 17 Aug. 2018

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

9 May 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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