US and Canadian
ˈȯl-tər-nət-lē How to pronounce alternately (audio)
 also  ˈal-;
 chiefly British  ȯl-ˈtər-
: by turns one after the other
His heart rate was 175, his blood pressure alternately spiking and falling.Stephen King
As the gravitational waves passed Earth, they would alternately compress and expand the space between two objects.Neil deGrasse Tyson et al.
The rest of the day I spent alternately pacing the length of the train … or looking out the windows.Rick Riordan
: as an alternative
used to introduce a different possibility from what has been previously suggested or described
From then on, you can take out almost $10,000 a year and annuitize $160,000 after at least ten years. Alternately, you can make no withdrawals and let your guaranteed base grow by 6 percent a year.Kerry Pechter
The club was originally known as Fontana Bar (or, alternately, Fontana Lounge and Fontana Room) from Bellagio's opening until it shifted to Hyde in December 2011.John Katsilometes
You could be in for a pretty remarkable experience—or, alternately, one of the most miserable and terrifying nights of your life.Drew Schwartz

Examples of alternately in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web The messy pace — alternately defiant, maudlin, weepy and bombastic — sounds like a country that was working things out within itself but nevertheless remained optimistic and confident about its future. Gustavo Arellano, Los Angeles Times, 14 Feb. 2024 The Lakers alternately attacked the basket or hit 3s in the third. Beth Harris, USA TODAY, 24 Jan. 2024 The audience crowded around the musician’s setup just in front of the stage, as people alternately took pictures and danced. Korine, wearing a fluorescent mask that covered most of his head and face, made his way through the room. Mark Olsen, Los Angeles Times, 9 Feb. 2024 Over the course of a roller-coaster relationship, in which booze alternately ignites and smothers their romantic flame, the couple get married, raise a daughter, drift apart, collide again and take stutter steps toward recovery. Thomas Floyd, Washington Post, 26 Jan. 2024 Each brings the precision, finesse and freewheeling spirit that underpins Oh’s alternately spacious and knotty compositions. George Varga, San Diego Union-Tribune, 19 Jan. 2024 The actress attacks the role with her typical intensity, portraying Lorna as a sort of feral animal in human form, alternately mocked and feared, pitied and scorned. Chris Vognar, New York Times, 18 Jan. 2024 Gradually add powdered sugar alternately with 5 tablespoons cream, beginning and ending with powdered sugar. Pam Lolley, Southern Living, 30 Dec. 2023 And yet two last-place seasons among 24 in New England alternately serve as a testament to what he’s accomplished, including a sterling 30-12 postseason record for the Patriots. Nate Davis, The Enquirer, 11 Jan. 2024 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'alternately.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of alternately was in the 15th century

Dictionary Entries Near alternately

Cite this Entry

“Alternately.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 4 Mar. 2024.

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!