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

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 The melody alternates within each movement depending on the footage. National Geographic, "How to Create a Music Score for Our Planet," 19 Apr. 2018 At the beginning of the journey, Atreus alternates between extremely pensive and extremely enthused about his new role as his father's warrior-helper. Kyle Orland, Ars Technica, "God of War (2018): How to reinvent a beloved series without ruining what works," 12 Apr. 2018 Continue repeating the four-part sequence, alternating which leg leads, for 1 minute. Jenny Mccoy, SELF, "Hailey Bieber Strengthens Her Core and Lower Half With This One 4-Part Exercise," 4 Jan. 2019 Director KJ Sanchez skillfully guides the rich production, alternating anarchic pageantry with nuanced pathos. Marcus Crowder, SFChronicle.com, "Former ‘Sesame Street’ star makes Cal Shakes’ ‘Quixote Nuevo’ an instant classic," 18 June 2018 Lee's offers three flavors a day, which are chocolate, vanilla and one that alternates every four to five days. Hannah Kirby, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Cool down with custard...or soft serve? Here are two places in the Milwaukee suburbs that do it right.," 30 May 2018 There is some voice-over but little dialogue in an ebb-and-flow soundtrack that alternates wailing folk melodies with choral chanting. New York Times, "In ‘The Color of Pomegranates,’ the Cinema of the Cryptic," 24 May 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

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 For the principals in particular, this is a hard sing — the original Broadway production included alternates for all the main roles — which makes the cast's accomplishments here all the more impressive despite some occasional strain. David Rooney, The Hollywood Reporter, "'Carmen Jones': Theater Review," 28 June 2018 An alternate was named in case one of the four dropped out, but so far, no one has. Trisha Powell Crain, AL.com, "Alabama schools hiring new superintendent: Who the board might select and why," 20 Apr. 2018 Last season, Incognito was a superb left guard for Rex Ryan’s Bills, who led the league in rushing with 2,432 yards and a 4.8-yard average gain, capping his year with a trip to the Pro Bowl after being named an AFC alternate. Khadrice Rollins, SI.com, "Bills Guard Richie Incognito Announces Retirement On Twitter," 10 Apr. 2018 Banjo nearly made the Pro Bowl because of his play, being tabbed an alternate for the game. Larry Holder, NOLA.com, "Grading the 2017 New Orleans Saints by position: Safety," 5 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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