al·​ter·​nat·​ing ˈȯl-tər-ˌnā-tiŋ How to pronounce alternating (audio)
 also  ˈal-
: occurring by turns or in succession
a fabric with alternating red and blue stripes
… they lacked experience with volcanoes such as St. Helens, a composite of alternating layers of ash and lava.Rowe Findley
alternatingly adverb
Alternatingly, place small mounds of the fennel and cabbage on each plate … Owen Dugan

Examples of alternating in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Our bodies are designed to perform these activities in a balanced, alternating and reciprocal pattern. Dana Santas, CNN, 6 Dec. 2022 Walking is an alternating and reciprocal pattern, which simply means that while one side of the body is doing one thing, the other is doing the opposite to create a complete movement. Dana Santas, CNN, 14 Sep. 2022 In the past, shipping electricity many hundreds of miles over conventional alternating-current lines wasn’t economical because of power losses that mounted rapidly the longer the distance. Phred Dvorak, WSJ, 7 Mar. 2022 The case and bracelet on both models have are stain-brushed and polished in an alternating fashion right down to the folding clasp. Paige Reddinger, Robb Report, 26 Jan. 2022 District 203 Superintendent Dan Bridges said early childhood students in full-day preschool will begin returning to their schools on an alternating-day basis beginning Thursday. Rafael Guerrero,, 3 Nov. 2020 In Montgomery, churches could have alternating rows of pews roped off and pillows placed in the others, asking only family members to sit together. Dennis Pillion |, al, 19 Apr. 2020 To rein in these non-traditional energy sources, researchers typically rely on rectifiers, or devices designed to convert the alternating current of electromagnetic waves—which oscillate in every which direction—into a direct current. Courtney Linder, Popular Mechanics, 2 Apr. 2020 The novel presents the alternating viewpoints of Alice and Eleanor in first person, as well as several chapters following John Billington’s point of view (which is disconcertingly rendered in third person). Emily Gray Tedrowe, USA TODAY, 16 Mar. 2020

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

Word History


from present participle of alternate entry 2

First Known Use

1653, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of alternating was in 1653

Dictionary Entries Near alternating

Cite this Entry

“Alternating.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 18 May. 2024.

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