alternate

1 of 3

adjective

al·​ter·​nate
US and Canadian
ˈȯl-tər-nət How to pronounce alternate (audio)
 also  ˈal-;
 chiefly British  ȯl-ˈtər-
1
: occurring or succeeding by turns
a day of alternate sunshine and rain
2
a
: 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

2 of 3

verb

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

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

3 of 3

noun

al·​ter·​nate
US and Canadian
ˈȯl-tər-nət How to pronounce alternate (audio)
 also  ˈal-;
 chiefly British  ȯl-ˈtər-
1
2
: one that substitutes for or alternates with another
They chose twelve jurors and two alternates.

Example Sentences

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. See More
Recent Examples on the Web
Adjective
This happens in an alternate universe, though, and in the MCU, Storm hasn't been introduced. Brendan Morrow, The Week, 11 Nov. 2022 The film takes a straight biopic approach while residing in a kind of alternate universe. Bill Goodykoontz, The Arizona Republic, 3 Nov. 2022 In an alternate universe, one where this city would be still thirsting for a World Series appearance, the 30-year-old Harper isn’t Philadelphia’s favorite transplant. Los Angeles Times, 1 Nov. 2022 In an alternate universe, Marisa Tomei won the role of Penny on The Big Bang Theory instead of Kaley Cuoco. Bailey Richards, Peoplemag, 6 Oct. 2022 If…?, voicing an alternate-universe version of T'Challa. Devan Coggan, EW.com, 5 Sep. 2022 In an alternate universe, maybe Payton Thorne and Jayden Reed would be preparing to play against Michigan State football this week. Chris Solari, Detroit Free Press, 30 Aug. 2022 In an alternate universe, all crime is legal in the U.S. for a 12-hour period. Marisa Lascala, Good Housekeeping, 19 Aug. 2022 Pat’s in the Flats was for so many Cleveland musicians and music lovers a prime gateway into the alternate universe that is Cleveland underground music. Annie Nickoloff, cleveland, 16 June 2022
Verb
The seedings and pods would alternate each year, leading to different matchups as well. Ben Thomas | Bthomas@al.com, al, 16 Nov. 2022 The Ravens continue to alternate wins and losses through six weeks after losing to the Giants on Sunday, 24-20. Tim Bielik, cleveland, 20 Oct. 2022 Jennings and Mayim Bialik have been tapped to alternate as guest hosts through 2021. oregonlive, 11 Nov. 2021 King said Daphne will continue to alternate quarterbacks Gabe Reynolds and Stephon Blackshear. Ben Thomas | Bthomas@al.com, al, 13 Oct. 2022 Weather experts normally alternate between female and male names and start in alphabetical order, but in reverse, hence how this first heat wave got the name Zoe. Saleen Martin, USA TODAY, 14 Aug. 2022 At this point, the Jays will continue to alternate the two between C and DH, a pretty enviable situation. Tony Blengino, Forbes, 7 July 2022 The two chefs will alternate courses on the meal, which is the second in a series of three California Collaboration dinners that Bradley is presenting with other like-minded chefs. Pam Kragen, San Diego Union-Tribune, 30 Sep. 2022 Thomas Shelby will be played by Guillaume Quéau and Prince Lyons, who will alternate, while the role of Grace will be rotated between Naya Lovell and Seren Williams. K.j. Yossman, Variety, 20 Sep. 2022
Noun
The juror was dismissed, but Ifediba argued more should have been done to determine whether the alternate discussed findings with other jurors. Amy Yurkanin | Ayurkanin@al.com, al, 29 Aug. 2022 John Daly, the last alternate to make the field, wins the 73rd PGA Championship with a 1-under 71 to finish three strokes ahead of Bruce Lietzke. Houston Mitchell, Los Angeles Times, 11 Aug. 2022 One of Madigan’s longtime precinct captains sought endorsement for a circuit court judgeship but ended up the eighth alternate — ranking 17th overall in a lineup behind nine endorsed candidates. Ray Long, chicagotribune.com, 2 Jan. 2022 Last week, 12 jurors and six alternates were picked for the case, but one alternate was dismissed Monday. Michael R. Sisak, Fortune, 31 Oct. 2022 The lawyers had not initially noticed the juror sleeping, but later did, and agreed the juror would be designated an alternate. Bruce Vielmetti, Journal Sentinel, 26 Oct. 2022 The new top party leadership panel marks the first time in 25 years women don’t make into the Politburo as either a full member or an alternate. Shen Lu, WSJ, 23 Oct. 2022 Also Monday, the judge replaced one juror with an alternate after the panelist reported having a panic attack while listening to closing arguments. Maria Puente, USA TODAY, 14 Sep. 2022 In a way, that craving for a Hollywood alternate ending contributed to the program’s disappearing act. Michael Casagrande | Mcasagrande@al.com, al, 8 Sep. 2022 See More

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.

Word History

Etymology

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

First Known Use

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

Time Traveler
The first known use of alternate was circa 1535

Dictionary Entries Near alternate

Cite this Entry

“Alternate.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/alternate. Accessed 28 Nov. 2022.

Kids Definition

alternate 1 of 3

adjective

al·​ter·​nate ˈȯl-tər-nət How to pronounce alternate (audio)
 also  ˈal-
1
: occurring or following by turns
a day of alternate sunshine and rain
2
a
: occurring first on one side and then on the other at different levels along an axis
alternate leaves on a plant stem
b
: arranged one above, beside, or next to another
alternate layers of meat and cheese
3
: every other : every second
works on alternate days
4
: being one of the things between which a choice is to be made
we took an alternate route
alternately adverb

alternate

2 of 3

verb

al·​ter·​nate ˈȯl-tər-ˌnāt How to pronounce alternate (audio)
 also  ˈal-
alternated; alternating
1
: to do, occur, or act by turns
2
: to cause to alternate

alternate

3 of 3

noun

al·​ter·​nate -nət How to pronounce alternate (audio)
: a person named to take the place of another when necessary

Legal Definition

alternate 1 of 2

adjective

al·​ter·​nate ˈȯl-tər-nət, ˈal- How to pronounce alternate (audio)
1
: occurring or succeeding by turns
2
: being an alternative
alternate juror

alternate

2 of 2

noun

1
2
: one that substitutes for another
twelve jurors and three alternates
Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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