alternate

adjective
al·​ter·​nate | \ US and Canadian ˈȯl-tər-nət How to pronounce alternate (audio) also ˈal-; chiefly British ȯl-ˈtər- \

Definition of alternate

 (Entry 1 of 3)

1 : occurring or succeeding by turns a day of alternate sunshine and rain
2a : arranged first on one side and then on the other at different levels or points along an axial line a plant with alternate leaves — compare opposite entry 1
b : arranged one above or alongside the other alternate layers of brick and stone
3 : every other : every second He works on alternate days.
4 : constituting an alternative took the alternate route home
5 : alternative sense 2 did not approve of their son's alternate lifestyle

alternate

verb
al·​ter·​nate | \ ˈȯl-tər-ˌnāt How to pronounce alternate (audio) also ˈal- \
alternated; alternating

Definition of alternate (Entry 2 of 3)

transitive verb

1 : to perform by turns or in succession alternated comedies and dramas
2 : to cause to alternate

intransitive verb

: to change from one to another repeatedly Rain alternated with sun.

alternate

noun
al·​ter·​nate | \ US and Canadian ˈȯl-tər-nət How to pronounce alternate (audio) also ˈal-; chiefly British ȯl-ˈtər- \

Definition of alternate (Entry 3 of 3)

2 : one that substitutes for or alternates with another They chose twelve jurors and two alternates.

Examples of alternate in a Sentence

Adjective Alternate shades of wood formed a pattern around the window. We took an alternate route because of the traffic. Due to an emergency, the plane landed at an alternate airport. Verb The poem alternates fear and hope. The light and dark woods alternate to form an elegant pattern around the window. Noun The town has elected five councilors and two alternates.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective Vehicle and pedestrian traffic are asked to find alternate routes. cleveland, "North Rocky River Drive in Berea will close for 5 days for bridge repair: Community Voices," 28 Apr. 2021 The hope, Barnard said, is that drivers will find alternate routes. Tim Harlow, Star Tribune, "I-94 work in downtown St. Paul could disrupt traffic for the next two summers," 26 Apr. 2021 Northbound lanes leading to the scene were blocked by police, advising commuters to seek alternate routes due to the investigation. Kaelan Deese, Washington Examiner, "Seattle police searching for suspect after four shot, including 2-year-old girl," 12 Apr. 2021 Officials said motorists should expect delays and use alternate routes. Vanessa Arredondo, San Francisco Chronicle, "Overturned big rig near Suisun City shuts down all westbound lanes of Highway 12," 8 Apr. 2021 Residents and businesses around the area will be given alternate routes to ease the impact on their daily routines. Anna Caplan, Dallas News, "Here’s what to expect if you head to McKinney’s inaugural Byron Nelson Tournament next month," 2 Apr. 2021 Use alternate routes if possible. Sidewalks will remain open in the area and a lane will be maintained for bicycle traffic. oregonlive, "Portland Tuesday metro traffic: Bike, bus lane construction begins on SE Hawthorne," 30 Mar. 2021 Efforts to unblock the Suez Canal in Egypt continued Thursday after a cargo vessel became stuck on Wednesday, forcing shippers to look for alternate routes to avoid global economic impact. Kaanita Iyer, USA TODAY, "A skyscraper-sized cargo ship remains wedged in the Suez Canal, the first time in the canal's 150-year history," 25 Mar. 2021 Several streets in the area have also been blocked off, and police are asking drivers to find alternate routes. Taylor Pettaway, San Antonio Express-News, "Man standing on ledge of overpass has forced the closure of I-35 near South Park Mall," 16 Mar. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Honda Civic generations tend to alternate between revolution and evolution. Joey Capparella, Car and Driver, "2022 Honda Civic Sedan Features a Cleaner Look, Carryover Engines," 29 Apr. 2021 Players will alternate shots in the second and final rounds. Brett Martel, ajc, "Garnett-Stallings, Hovland-Ventura share Zurich Classic lead," 23 Apr. 2021 In addition, teams will alternate 2-point plays beginning with the third overtime period, rather than a series of four downs beginning at the 25-yard line. Creg Stephenson | Cstephenson@al.com, al, "College football overtime rule changes approved for 2021," 22 Apr. 2021 Conferences will alternate the lopsided schedule by year; AFC teams will have nine home games in 2021 and NFC teams will have nine home games in 2022, and so on. Ben Goessling, Star Tribune, "NFL approving 17th game means Vikings visit Chargers in 2021," 30 Mar. 2021 People who alternate cruelty with charm fuel hope that things will finally stay charming. Washington Post, "Carolyn Hax: Just say no to gifts from relative’s abuser," 12 Apr. 2021 When wooing lovers, friends and colleagues, his strategy was to alternate between cruelty and abundant kindness. New York Times, "Philip Roth Was His Own Favorite Subject. What’s Left for a Biographer?," 30 Mar. 2021 The powerful lineup is so balanced that manager Dave Roberts can alternate right-handed and left-handed sluggers throughout the order most nights. Mike Digiovanna, Los Angeles Times, "NL West preview: Dodgers and Padres not only are best in the West, but best in MLB," 26 Mar. 2021 And the Rock Hall seemed to realize it, scheduling the ceremony to alternate between New York and Cleveland starting in 2018. Troy L. Smith, cleveland, "It’s time for the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Ceremony to be in Cleveland every year | Opinion," 3 Mar. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun After the 1984 season, Lott, Hicks, Williamson and Wright, who appeared as an alternate, all played in the Pro Bowl. Eric Branch, San Francisco Chronicle, "Three great catches: Recalling the 49ers' historic defensive-back draft of 1981," 26 Apr. 2021 This juror was an alternate and was dismissed prior to deliberations. Eric Levenson And Aaron Cooper, CNN, "The jury has been selected for Derek Chauvin's trial. Here's what we know about them," 20 Apr. 2021 Still, at least bring back the former Dolphin logo – still used as an alternate – permanently. Nate Davis, USA TODAY, "NFL uniform power rankings 2021: List gets refresh as Cincinnati Bengals reveal updated look," 19 Apr. 2021 Louisville's gossamer-thin chances to sneak into the NCAA Tournament as the first alternate ended when the clock chimed six. Shannon Russell, The Courier-Journal, "Deadline passes, Louisville basketball's NCAA Tournament hopes snuffed," 17 Mar. 2021 Tony Chiazza, originally slated as the alternate for the nightcap between Michigan and UCLA, filled in for Henderson, according to the NCAA. Scott Gleeson, USA TODAY, "Elite Eight takeaways from men's NCAA Tournament: Can Final Four-bound Gonzaga go undefeated?," 31 Mar. 2021 The Buffaloes have been healthy all year, Dorrell said, and remain energized for one more game after being deemed an alternate for the Pac-12 title matchup. Greg Luca, ExpressNews.com, "Amid flurry of Pac-12 opt-outs, Alamo Bowl secures Colorado for matchup against No. 20 Texas," 20 Dec. 2020 Cayard was an alternate at the 1984 Los Angeles Games, when the Americans won three gold medals and four silvers. Bernie Wilson, ajc, "Cayard takes helm of underperforming US Olympic sailing team," 25 Mar. 2021 Along Chardon Road, there is a strip of roadway leading to the city’s border with Euclid in which streetlights alternate between active lights and those that have been shuttered. cleveland, "Richmond Heights Council’s Safety Committee moves to add more streetlighting," 17 Mar. 2021

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'alternate.' 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 alternate

Adjective

circa 1535, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Verb

1605, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1

Noun

1717, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for alternate

Adjective

Latin alternatus, past participle of alternare, from alternus alternate, from alter other

Verb

borrowed from Latin alternātus, past participle of alternāre "to ebb and flow, act in alternation, arrange in alternating order" — more at alternate entry 1

Noun

derivative of alternate entry 1

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Time Traveler for alternate

Time Traveler

The first known use of alternate was circa 1535

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Statistics for alternate

Last Updated

1 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Alternate.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/alternate. Accessed 6 May. 2021.

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More Definitions for alternate

alternate

adjective

English Language Learners Definition of alternate

 (Entry 1 of 3)

: occurring in or forming a repeated series
used to describe something that happens one time, does not happen the next time, happens again, etc.
chiefly US : other than the usual

alternate

verb

English Language Learners Definition of alternate (Entry 2 of 3)

: to place or do (different things) so that one follows the other in a repeated series

alternate

noun

English Language Learners Definition of alternate (Entry 3 of 3)

US : someone who is chosen to take another person's place if that person is not able to be present or to do a required job

alternate

adjective
al·​ter·​nate | \ ˈȯl-tər-nət How to pronounce alternate (audio) \

Kids Definition of alternate

 (Entry 1 of 3)

1 : occurring or following by turns alternate sunshine and rain
2 : arranged one above, beside, or next to another alternate layers of cake and filling
3 : every other : every second We meet on alternate days.

Other Words from alternate

alternately adverb

alternate

verb
al·​ter·​nate | \ ˈȯl-tər-ˌnāt How to pronounce alternate (audio) \
alternated; alternating

Kids Definition of alternate (Entry 2 of 3)

: to take place or cause to take place by turns She alternated between running and lifting weights.

alternate

noun
al·​ter·​nate | \ ˈȯl-tər-nət How to pronounce alternate (audio) \

Kids Definition of alternate (Entry 3 of 3)

: a person named to take the place of another whenever necessary They were chosen as alternates to attend the convention.

alternate

adjective
al·​ter·​nate | \ ˈȯl-tər-nət, ˈal- How to pronounce alternate (audio) \

Legal Definition of alternate

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : occurring or succeeding by turns
2 : being an alternative alternate juror

alternate

noun

Legal Definition of alternate (Entry 2 of 2)

2 : one that substitutes for another twelve jurors and three alternates

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Comments on alternate

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