alterity

noun al·ter·i·ty \ ȯl-ˈter-ə-tē , -ˈte-rə- \

Definition of alterity

: otherness; specifically : the quality or state of being radically alien to the conscious self or a particular cultural orientation

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Recent Examples of alterity from the Web

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'alterity.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Did You Know?

You’re probably familiar with the verb alter, meaning "to make or become different," and you may not be surprised to learn that it is a relative of "alterity." Both words descend from the Latin word alter, meaning "other (of two)." That Latin alter, in turn, comes from a prehistoric Indo-European word that is also an ancestor of our "alien." "Alterity" has been used in English as a fancy word for "otherness" ("the state of being other") since at least 1642. It remains less common than "otherness" and tends to turn up most often in the context of literary theory or cultural studies.

Origin and Etymology of alterity

Late Latin alteritat-, alteritas, from alter


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very hard to disturb or upset

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