alter

verb
al·ter | \ˈȯl-tər \
altered; altering\-t(ə-)riŋ \

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 \ noun
alterable \ˈȯl-t(ə-)rə-bəl \ adjective
alterably \-blē \ adverb
alterer \-tər-ər \ 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 there is another unanswerable question on their minds: Was there something — anything — the school could have or should have done differently that might have altered what happened that day and prevent it from ever happening again? Emma Kate Fittes, Indianapolis Star, "A Carmel High School student's suicide raises questions over how schools discipline kids," 11 July 2018 Bananas have such a distinct flavor and hearty texture, the smoke wasn’t able to alter it much. Chuck Blount, San Antonio Express-News, "The 4 fruits to put in the smoker, and 5 to avoid," 9 July 2018 In a survey of MoviePass users published in April, the Hollywood Reporter found that the subscription had altered viewing habits for subscribers — sometimes substantially. Alissa Wilkinson, Vox, "Why MoviePass is the future — even if it doesn’t survive," 6 July 2018 Three administrations have previously tried to alter it and failed. The Economist, "The president of the Philippines wants to change the constitution," 28 June 2018 Carolyn Murphy: The Alkaline Diet An alkaline diet, which limits acidic foods in an effort to alter the body’s pH level, is high in fruits, vegetables, nuts, and legumes and low in meat, fish, dairy, eggs, grains, and alcohol. Elizabeth Inglese, Vogue, "Eat Like a Supermodel! 5 Healthy Food Plans Behind the World’s Best Bodies," 28 June 2018 But a section of the first floor collapsed, forcing fire crews to alter their tactics. Caroline Blackmon, Detroit Free Press, "Mid-1800s home damaged by fire in West Bloomfield," 6 June 2018 There, according to IfNotNow participants, Cohen was open to the idea of altering Ramah’s educational approach to include discussions of Palestinians. Abraham Riesman, Daily Intelligencer, "Can the young activists of IfNotNow change the conversation about Israel and the Palestinians, or will their contradictions hold them back?," 12 July 2018 That suggests, though, that replacing Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, who was in the majority, with Judge Kavanaugh would not alter the balance of power on the court on such questions. Adam Liptak, New York Times, "Showdown on a Trump Subpoena Could Overshadow Brett Kavanaugh’s Confirmation," 10 July 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

10 Oct 2018

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

: to remove the sex organs of (an animal) so that the animal is unable to reproduce

alter

verb
al·ter | \ˈȯl-tər \
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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Comments on alter

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