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.

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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 Lawrence asked if Stone would be amenable to an alternate all-residential plan. cleveland, "Pepper Pike to hold online public hearing on Beech Brook rezoning July 29," 25 June 2020 After the conference Brian and Sandra started telling more people; keeping the diagnosis to themselves felt like living in alternate reality. Brian Barrett, Wired, "My Friend Was Struck by ALS. Here’s How He’s Fighting Back," 23 June 2020 Mock is a director, writer and executive producer for Pose on FX, a drama about the 1980s ballroom scene in New York, and Netflix’s Hollywood, which imagines an alternate history of Hollywood’s Golden Age. Lane Florsheim, WSJ, "Janet Mock on the Whiplash of These Current Times," 22 June 2020 Learning about the success of the Access to Justice office after its demise feels like catching a glimpse of an alternate reality. Kathryn Joyce, The New Republic, "No Money, No Lawyer, No Justice," 22 June 2020 My door could have led to anything—a linen closet, a brick wall, an alternate universe. David Canfield, EW.com, "First look: Frankly in Love breakout David Yoon returns with another fizzy rom-com," 22 June 2020 In the alternate universe, Sunday night could have been one of the biggest in Wisconsin sports history. Jr Radcliffe, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Bucks fall in Game 7 of NBA Finals to Clippers in Strat-O-Matic simulation," 21 June 2020 The series starring Regina King is a sci-fi alternate history that helped spread awareness of an awful chapter of racist violence in America, the 1921 race massacre in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Julie Hinds, Detroit Free Press, "Juneteenth gains new attention and corporate support in a year of racial unrest," 19 June 2020 In an alternate universe, Lam might have been remembered as a competent, if not inspiring, leader whose deference to Beijing marked a continuation of her predecessors’ positions. Timothy Mclaughlin, The Atlantic, "A Stubborn Leader, a Broken System," 18 June 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb They've been cut into baseball's ambitious, unprecedented and relatively tenuous plans to play a 2020 season, right there on Page 46 of a tome that seems to alternate between draconian and dystopian. Gabe Lacques, USA TODAY, "As MLB makes plans for 2020 season, what about the mascots?," 27 June 2020 Catching up took a while, and picking the one moment of victory is hard, as pistachio harvests can be volatile, alternating between fat and lean years. Marc Champion, Bloomberg.com, "The U.S.-Iran Pistachio War Is Heating Up," 10 May 2020 Over the years, reviews came and went, alternating between lauded praise and skewered condemnation. Marc Bona, cleveland, "Jim’s Steak House: Remembering Cleveland’s famed restaurant’s best, worst days," 4 May 2020 There about 100 people waited, in some cases for hours, alternating between their cars and braving a harsh wind. Vic Ryckaert, Indianapolis Star, "'Passionate, determined, God-fearing': Officer Leath laid to rest in coronavirus' shadow," 16 Apr. 2020 Starting from the temples, Spence works the molding paste into the hair to slick it down — alternating between brushing it through with the spooley and flattening it with his fingers. Devon Abelman, Allure, "How to Lay and Wave Your Edges With a Spooley, According to a Pro Hairstylist," 3 Apr. 2020 The younger Fesser kept his head down and played basketball through junior year of high school, alternating between a shooting guard and small forward. oregonlive, "Target of bogus West Linn police investigation says his past doesn’t define him," 3 Mar. 2020 Tempo escalates as players alternate between purchasing upgrades and the lengthier Onslaught phase. Charlie Theel, Ars Technica, "Cloudspire: a $130 MOBA for your tabletop?," 8 Feb. 2020 Add steak and lobster to 12-inch skewers, alternating between steak and lobster. Dallas News, "Skip the reservation — have a seafood date night at home," 3 Feb. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Lashley’s Cinderella story last year as the seventh and final alternate to get in the tournament. Carlos Monarrez, Detroit Free Press, "Handicapping the Rocket Mortgage Classic field: Who'll win at Detroit Golf Club?," 27 June 2020 Martinez won the 2020 U.S. Olympic Trials in his weight class but was chosen as an alternate for the Olympic team and elected to turn pro after 160 amateur battles. Jr Radcliffe, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Milwaukee boxer Javier Martinez to turn pro, compete on ESPN, after getting snubbed for Olympic team," 23 June 2020 The 6-5 Flake was an alternate for the Indiana All-Star team after his senior season in 1964-65. Kyle Neddenriep, The Indianapolis Star, "Gary Roosevelt, New Castle, Washington, Jeffersonville reach Build-A-Team Final Four," 8 June 2020 Jerry Flake – The 6-5 Flake was an alternate for the Indiana All-Star team after his senior season in 1964-65. Kyle Neddenriep, The Indianapolis Star, "Gary Roosevelt, New Castle, Washington, Jeffersonville reach Build-A-Team Final Four," 8 June 2020 Tuerk, who was an alternate for the former East Germany's Olympic decathlon team in 1980 according to a 2004 profile in The Boston Globe, was a urologist at St. Elizabeth's Medical Center in Boston. CBS News, "Prominent doctor charged with killing wife in affluent Boston suburb," 19 May 2020 Bobby Leonard – Leonard scored 1,407 career points at Gerstmeyer and was an alternate as a senior on the 1950 Indiana All-Star team. Kyle Neddenriep, Indianapolis Star, "Build-A-Team: Putting together the best Terre Haute Gerstmeyer basketball team," 4 Apr. 2020 Skinner was an alternate on the U.S. team at the 2019 World Championships. Jeff Metcalfe, azcentral, "MyKayla Skinner takes second all-around in return to international elite competition," 7 Mar. 2020 Last season in the 100 breaststroke, Tommie finished 17th and was an alternate for the final session despite just one year of experience in the race. Shelby Dermer, Cincinnati.com, "State swimming notebook: Mariemont's surprising season; Bethel-Tate twins savor experience," 20 Feb. 2020

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

29 Jun 2020

Cite this Entry

“Alternate.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/alternate. Accessed 2 Jul. 2020.

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More Definitions for alternate

alternate

adjective
How to pronounce alternate (audio)

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
How to pronounce alternate (audio)

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
How to pronounce alternate (audio)

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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