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 | \ US and Canadian ˈȯl-tər-nət also ˈal- How to pronounce alternate (audio) ; 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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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

Officials asked residents to find alternate transportation. CBS News, "Boston train derailment leaves 9 injured," 8 June 2019 Rather than leave, Scorah, afraid of being killed by God at Armageddon and unable to see a sustainable path to an alternate future, returned to the faith. Jacqueline Alnes, Longreads, "‘If Any of My Old Friends Are Reading This, It Is Okay Out Here.’," 8 June 2019 But in a world where people gorge solely on their specific tastes online, rarely relishing alternate viewpoints, that can instead leave everyone wanting. Jacob Feldman, SI.com, "As the Game Evolves, MLB Broadcaster John Smoltz Has Become a Topic of Debate," 7 June 2019 The resolution of the crisis and Chile’s return to democracy were through an admirable and uncommon political compromise and a willingness of the parties to share and alternate power. Moisés Naím, Washington Post, "Psychotherapy can solve personal problems — why not national crises?," 7 June 2019 Exclusive colored variants of the vinyl with bonus items will be available at Walmart, Target and Urban Outfitters, while an alternate cover edition will be available that day at Barnes & Noble. Aurelie Corinthios, PEOPLE.com, "Stranger Things Announces Season 3 Soundtrack — with an Original Cast Recording!," 6 June 2019 The speaker is Tony Gurnoe, director of Horticulture of the San Diego Botanic Garden and alternate director of the California Chapter of the American Bamboo Society. San Diego Union-Tribune, "Nonprofit gives 200 teddy bears to help sick kids," 6 June 2019 Cleaning and maintaining this equipment in a marine environment is also a concern, and the researchers admit that there may be room for alternate setups (like making another fuel instead of methanol) that might make more economic sense. Megan Geuss, Ars Technica, "Creative thinking: Researchers propose solar methanol island using ocean CO₂," 6 June 2019 And there are plenty of alternate explanations for Harold’s and White’s observations. Daniel Oberhaus, WIRED, "A Mythical Form of Space Propulsion Finally Gets a Real Test," 5 June 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Then, alternating between English, French and his native Spanish, Nadal thanked everyone from the tournament’s ball kids to Spain’s former king, 81-year-old Juan Carlos I, who looked on with pride. Liz Clarke, The Denver Post, "Rafael Nadal wins 12th French Open title with victory over Dominic Thiem," 9 June 2019 Continue this sequence, alternating between the ab tucks and toe touches, for 30 to 45 seconds. SELF, "Strengthen Your Entire Body With This 8-Part Slam Ball Circuit from Pink’s Trainer," 12 Sep. 2018 Still, the latest episode came pretty close, alternating between elaborate double-crosses. Brian Lowry, CNN, "'Billions' wraps season with high-stakes double crosses," 10 June 2018 Those payments show the lengths AT&T went to understand Trump's thinking, even as Stephenson alternated between praise and exasperation with the president. Gregory Korte, USA TODAY, "In hiring Michael Cohen, AT&T betrays a complicated relationship with Trump," 9 May 2018 The short stories had over time come unbuttoned, the novels proceeding with the sham dignity and slow gait of drunks trying to pass for sober, while the children alternated between hoping desperately to be seen and trying to keep out of the way. Michael Chabon, GQ, "Michael Chabon: Are Kids the Enemy of Writing?," 27 Apr. 2018 Also: Print the ceremony program on paper fans — most stationers can do this — so guests can alternate between reading and cooling off. Lauren Levy, The Cut, "The Everything Guide to Staying Cool at a Summer Wedding," 12 Apr. 2018 The team never quite finds its footing, alternating between winning and losing streaks. Clarence Hill, star-telegram, "Oh the drama: Relive Cowboys tumultuous 2017 season on Amazon series | Fort Worth Star-Telegram," 1 Mar. 2018 Monthly meetings are held on the third Thursday of the month, alternating between lunch and after-business hours. Bob Dohr, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "What's happening in Waukesha County area: Eisenhower theater taking a trip 'Into the Woods'," 12 Feb. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Additionally, guide Ben Raines was on hand as an alternate. al.com, "Veterans’ group, coastal guides team on fishing trip," 11 June 2019 The jury is composed of six men and six women, with four alternates. Peter Doocy, Fox News, "Mueller's team slams Manafort's lavish lifestyle in trial's opening statements, as defense says wealth is no crime," 31 July 2018 The seven men and five women will be sequestered for the whole trial, alongside six alternates lawyers will start looking for Thursday. Aubrey Nagle, Philly.com, "Meet the new school board, Phillies home opener, DA Krasner under fire | Morning Newsletter," 5 Apr. 2018 The jury of 16 people, four of whom are alternates, includes six people of color. Amy Forliti, The Seattle Times, "Activists: Cop’s shooting of white woman treated differently," 13 Apr. 2019 The Bears’ primary uniforms are pretty much perfect, so alternates are completely unnecessary. Steven Ruiz, For The Win, "Every NFL team's best alternate uniform, ranked," 3 July 2018 Plus, the skater divulges what life as an Olympic alternate is really like. Rose Minutaglio, Cosmopolitan, "EXCLUSIVE: Ashley Wagner Opens Up About Her "Bittersweet" Life As Team USA's Figure Skating Alternate," 15 Feb. 2018 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

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

14 Jun 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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