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. See More
Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective Ekeler’s alternate receiving prop of 25+ yards is set at -275. Michael Nwaneri, Chicago Tribune, 15 Sep. 2022 Pennyworth is set in an alternate history, exploring the DC Universe decades before the Justice League emerged. Joey Nolfi, EW.com, 30 Aug. 2022 Gradually alternate between adding a little cheese followed by a little pasta water, while constantly stirring quite vigorously. Odette Williams, WSJ, 12 Aug. 2022 Every other week, men and women alternate giving out roses to determine who stays and who goes. Naledi Ushe, USA TODAY, 8 Aug. 2022 In the Cooperative Education Program, students alternate periods of full-time study with periods of full-time employment. Sam Boyer, cleveland, 3 Aug. 2022 And sci-fi’s metaphorical potential only grows stronger when the politics and culture of real-life society start to resemble the surreality of a dark parallel universe or an alternate history. Joshua Alston, Variety, 6 July 2022 The divergence between real history and our alternate history just grows broader as, as the show goes on. Caroline Hallemann, Town & Country, 10 June 2022 The alternate-history drama imagines what would have happened if the global space race had continued unabated after the 1969 moon landing. James Hibberd, The Hollywood Reporter, 16 May 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb In other words, there’s a good chance that Ana and Alyssa will alternate days at the table. Selena Barrientos, Good Housekeeping, 7 Sep. 2022 But site tours led by rangers will alternate with neighborhood walks guided by the Historic Pullman Foundation. Paul Eisenberg, Chicago Tribune, 21 Aug. 2022 The three networks will also alternate between picking first among each weekend's selection of Big Ten games. Paul Myerberg, USA TODAY, 18 Aug. 2022 Three players from each league will alternate taking three swings each, with the visiting American League up first. Globe Staff, BostonGlobe.com, 19 July 2022 According to the ruling, Abelseth, 32, and Barnes, 46, will alternate custody of the girl on weekends. Chris Harris, PEOPLE.com, 22 June 2022 As the visiting team, the AL would send a hitter to bat first, and players from each league would alternate. Ronald Blum, BostonGlobe.com, 19 July 2022 In practice, trail runners tend to alternate between walking and running on steep or long uphills. Alex Hutchinson, Outside Online, 13 July 2022 The novel is structured in sections that alternate between the days and hours leading up to Agatha’s disappearance and Nan’s early life in London and Ireland. Washington Post, 2 Feb. 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun According to the Oliverson's, Brogan was selected as an alternate for the team prior to his brother's injury. Kyla Guilfoil, ABC News, 19 Aug. 2022 The 2021 USA Skateboarding national champion in women’s park skates so smoothly that last summer, she was selected as an alternate for the Tokyo Olympics at just 15. Myah Taylor, Los Angeles Times, 22 July 2022 Gymnast Kara Eaker, who was set to be an alternate on the U.S. team in Tokyo, also recently tested positive. Sarah Jacob, SELF, 19 July 2021 Scott was originally an alternate on the Olympic roster. Arianna Vedia, Dallas News, 10 July 2021 Marie Roethlisberger was the alternate on that seven-athlete women's team, a non-competitor at those L.A. Olympics but with the group all the way. Star Tribune, 30 June 2021 Crouser is coached by his father, Mitch, a discus specialist who was an alternate on the 1984 Olympic team. Lindsay Schnell, USA TODAY, 18 July 2022 Skinner, 24, was an alternate on the 2016 Olympic team that won gold in Rio de Janeiro. Will Graves, chicagotribune.com, 31 July 2021 Crouser was often accompanied by his father, Mitch, who was an alternate on the 1984 U.S. Olympic discus team. oregonlive, 30 July 2021 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.

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

Learn More About alternate

Time Traveler for alternate

Time Traveler

The first known use of alternate was circa 1535

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Dictionary Entries Near alternate

alternat

alternate

alternate angle

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Statistics for alternate

Last Updated

22 Sep 2022

Cite this Entry

“Alternate.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/alternate. Accessed 2 Oct. 2022.

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More Definitions for alternate

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 I alternate 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 I was chosen to be an alternate on the jury.

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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