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

Keep scrolling for more

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.
See More

Recent Examples on the Web

In Britain, the national anthem would be altered to 'God Save The King,' and new stamps, banknotes and coins would be issued with an image of the male monarch. Katie Frost, Town & Country, "What Will Happen When Queen Elizabeth II Dies?," 25 Mar. 2019 For last night's event, her dress was altered to include cap sleeves. Nicole Saunders, Harper's BAZAAR, "Kate Middleton Wore Her Gucci Blouse Backwards and We Almost Missed It," 13 Mar. 2019 By the time Castro had taken power, Zapata Swamp had already been altered by human ambition. Shanna Baker, Smithsonian, "The Quest to Preserve the Last of Castro’s Crocodiles," 21 June 2018 Through all the cast drama, co-host changes, ups and downs with guests, Joy reiterates that none of it has altered her personal views of the world. Kayla Keegan, Good Housekeeping, "'The View' Star Joy Behar Dishes on Why She's Not Leaving Anytime Soon," 11 Dec. 2018 Others cities have dramatically altered street infrastructure to better protect pedestrians, such as reducing the number of traffic lanes and mid-block crossings. Bree Burkitt, azcentral, "Latest string of deadly pedestrian accidents continues Arizona trend," 2 July 2018 The Heat often have altered their roster during the course of summer-league play, losing center Willie Reed to the Nets in the midst of 2015 summer league and adding Okaro White in the midst of their summer play in 2016. Ira Winderman, Sun-Sentinel.com, "Bucks 2015 first-round pick Rashad Vaughn added to Heat summer roster," 28 June 2018 The effects of these changes, experts said, has altered the racial composition of some neighborhoods drastically. The Christian Science Monitor, "Washington D.C. sued for putting 'creative class' above minority communities," 28 June 2018 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

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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about alter

Statistics for alter

Last Updated

6 Jun 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for alter

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

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

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

Keep scrolling for more

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

What made you want to look up alter? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

WORD OF THE DAY

to move with exaggerated bouncy motions

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Finance Words Quiz

  • a-piggy-bank
  • The etymology of mortgage is related most closely to which two words?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

TAKE THE QUIZ
Citation

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!