alternate

adjective
al·​ter·​nate | \ US and Canadian ˈȯl-tər-nət also ˈal- How to pronounce alternate (audio) ; 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 also ˈal- How to pronounce alternate (audio) \
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 | \ same as 1alternate How to pronounce alternate (audio) \

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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Other Words from alternate

Adjective

alternately adverb

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

This week's very special episode of Riverdale blesses us with an alternate reality in which Archie and the gang are minor characters, while Josie, Cheryl, Reggie, and Kevin are the Core Four. Emma Dibdin, Harper's BAZAAR, "Can Riverdale Please Be "Bizarrodale" Every Week?," 7 Feb. 2019 The show takes place in this alternate reality where there's no real poverty. Elizabeth Angell, Town & Country, "The Good Place Creator Michael Schur on How He Made Philosophy a Pop Culture Phenomenon," 6 Dec. 2018 All that uncertainty makes alternate revenue streams crucial, especially for grocers, which generate much skimpier margins than, say, fashion or luxury retailers. Matthew Boyle, The Seattle Times, "Amazon has a big advertising business. Walmart wants one too," 19 Feb. 2019 Following the outbreak of a nuclear war, Hel is one of thousands of people who fled from New York City into an alternate timeline — our own. Andrew Liptak, The Verge, "All the science fiction and fantasy books we’re looking forward to in 2019," 30 Dec. 2018 An alternate option for Amy is, wait for it...food! Taylor Mead, House Beautiful, "Actress Amy Smart Reveals How She Decorates Her Home For The Holidays With Husband Carter Oosterhouse," 7 Dec. 2018 In three additions, alternate flour and date mixtures, mixing until just combined. The Good Housekeeping Test Kitchen, Good Housekeeping, "Sticky Toffee Pudding," 27 Nov. 2018 He was praised by former NBA Commissioner David Stern and served as the Mavericks' alternate governor with the league. Fox News, "Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban to donate $10M after NBA probes office environment," 19 Sep. 2018 Bubba Watson and Matt Kuchar, who shot 67 on Friday in alternate shot, could only manage a 68 in better ball and were seven shots back. BostonGlobe.com, "Kisner, Brown take lead into final round of Zurich Classic," 28 Apr. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Considering that Tate's 1960's aesthetic was defined by her blonde, which alternated between bombshell and bohemian, Robbie's channeling is infinitely on-point. Calin Van Paris, Vogue, "Margot Robbie Is Barely Recognizable in Her First Look as Sharon Tate," 6 Aug. 2018 But for many young voters, Mr. López Obrador at least offers the best chance of an end to the status quo of the PRI and the PAN, which have alternated power for the past two decades. Paulina Villegas, New York Times, "Disenchanted Youth May Tip Mexican Election to López Obrador," 25 June 2018 Like other shows, Casey says the June 23 tour finale will alternate matches between music sets. Dave Brooks, Billboard, "Dropkick Murphys Announce Boston Boxing Matches For Final Shows of Summer Tour With Flogging Molly," 22 May 2018 On the 1 train to Times Square, a group of five teenagers alternated between staring at me and whispering to one another. Sam Dangremond, Town & Country, "I Wore a Masters Green Jacket Around New York City," 10 Apr. 2013 Over the coming years, however, the century-old rivalry receded a bit, as the Yankees and Red Sox seemed to alternate strong seasons, depriving fans of the excitement that came with both being good at once. Alex Putterman, The Atlantic, "The Yankees–Red Sox Rivalry Is Back in Full Force," 28 June 2018 Going forward, Knight plans to alternate years between the Challenge, which requires recipients to raise matching funds, and the New Work program, which supplies grants. Jane Wooldridge, miamiherald, "$500,000 is up for grabs in new Knight grants. Only new performance works qualify.," 19 June 2018 Unlike steady-state cardio, HIIT alternates between short bursts of all-out exertion and rest. Philly.com, "A cardio circuit for people who hate running," 26 June 2018 For the rest of the month, Leonard alternates between playing and resting, and gets action in four of San Antonio's last eight games before 2018. Khadrice Rollins, SI.com, "Kawhi Leonard Injury Timeline: How Did the Spurs Get to This Point?," 19 Apr. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Required by recent rulings to propose an alternate means for his own death, Mr. Bucklew offered nitrogen gas. Jess Bravin, WSJ, "Supreme Court Rejects Ailing Killer’s Claim That Lethal Injection Will Be Too Painful," 1 Apr. 2019 If a woman wins, sometimes her male alternate will seek to oust her to take power. Paola Flores, Fox News, "As women's roles expand in Bolivian politics, so do attacks," 25 Aug. 2018 Then alternate between pulling your right knee to right elbow, and left knee to left elbow. NBC News, "5 exercises that target those hard-to-tone body parts," 17 May 2018 The interactive display alternates between heat maps of live data feeds from the online survey company’s servers around the world and a giant rendition of the company’s mascot, Goldie. Nerissa Pacio Itchon, San Francisco Chronicle, "SurveyMonkey designs HQ with everything its employees could ask for — because they did," 23 Jan. 2018 Earlier Monday, lawyers chose 12 jurors and two alternates to hear the case. Bruce Schreiner, The Seattle Times, "Rand Paul testifies he feared for his life after 2017 attack," 28 Jan. 2019 The jury, which features two black members out of 12 jurors and two alternates, also acquitted Oliver on two lesser charges of aggravated assault stemming from the shooting. Ryan Tarinelli, Fox News, "Mom: Ex-Texas officer convicted of murder is a devoted dad," 30 Aug. 2018 As word had gotten out about the opportunity available, 12 other players signed up as alternates. Ben Rothenberg, New York Times, "With One Spot Left in the French Open, the Race Was On," 28 May 2018 Two will be excused as alternates before deliberations, which may not start until next week. Bruce Vielmetti, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Trial begins for Brown Deer police officer who shot bus passenger," 13 Feb. 2018

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, Verb, and Noun

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

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Statistics for alternate

Last Updated

22 Mar 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for alternate

The first known use of alternate was circa 1535

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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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