alternative

1 of 2

adjective

al·​ter·​na·​tive ȯl-ˈtər-nə-tiv How to pronounce alternative (audio)
al-
1
: offering or expressing a choice
several alternative plans
2
: different from the usual or conventional: such as
a
: existing or functioning outside the established cultural, social, or economic system
an alternative newspaper
alternative lifestyles
b
: of, relating to, or being rock music that is regarded as an alternative to conventional rock and is typically influenced by punk rock, hard rock, hip-hop, or folk music
an alternative band
also : of, relating to, or being music of a genre other than rock that is similarly regarded as an alternative to the conventional music of that genre
alternative country
c
: of or relating to alternative medicine
alternative therapies
3
: occurring or succeeding by turns : alternate sense 1
alternatively adverb
alternativeness noun

alternative

2 of 2

noun

1
a
: a proposition or situation offering a choice between two or more things only one of which may be chosen
a government facing the alternative of high taxes or poor highways
b
: an opportunity for deciding between two or more courses or propositions
the alternative of going by train or by plane
2
a
: one of two or more things, courses, or propositions to be chosen
The menu offered several vegetarian alternatives.
b
: something which can be chosen instead
The only alternative to intervention.
3
: alternative rock music
a fan of alternative
Choose the Right Synonym for alternative

choice, option, alternative, preference, selection, election mean the act or opportunity of choosing or the thing chosen.

choice suggests the opportunity or privilege of choosing freely.

freedom of choice

option implies a power to choose that is specifically granted or guaranteed.

the option of paying now or later

alternative implies a need to choose one and reject another possibility.

equally attractive alternatives

preference suggests a choice guided by one's judgment or predilections.

a preference for cool weather

selection implies a range of choice.

a varied selection of furniture

election implies an end or purpose which requires exercise of judgment.

doing a tax return forces certain elections on you

Examples of alternative in a Sentence

Adjective Scientists are developing an alternative approach to treating the disease. He developed an alternative design for the new engine. Noun We decided to leave since our only other alternative was to wait in the rain. I was offered no alternative. The menu offered several vegetarian alternatives.
Recent Examples on the Web
Adjective
Ever since the boom of the side hustle, freelancing, or gig economy within recent years since the pandemic, holding down an alternative or secondary source of supplementary income has become the norm. Rachel Wells, Forbes, 26 Feb. 2024 Beijing is also trying to create an alternative economic system that doesn’t rely as heavily on the U.S., such as pushing for greater use of the Yuan internationally. Lionel Lim, Fortune Asia, 26 Feb. 2024 Find alternative ways to reach your goals while the moon aligns with innovative Uranus. USA TODAY, 25 Feb. 2024 Absent those conditions, police should seek an alternative way to meet the goal of arresting the suspect, the advisory group says. Bill Lukitsch, Kansas City Star, 25 Feb. 2024 Republican leadership is interested in alternative solutions to fixing Washington Street, such as returning Washington and Meridian Streets back to INDOT's care. Brittany Carloni, The Indianapolis Star, 23 Feb. 2024 After seeking alternative treatments around the world, Marley died on May 11, 1981, in Miami. Alex Gurley, Peoplemag, 22 Feb. 2024 Every design choice seems handed down through millennia of alternative human history, from arcane hieroglyphics to a slew of creative masks and veils meant to conceal the faces of those manipulating the levers of power, nearly all of them women. Peter Debruge, Variety, 21 Feb. 2024 Nvidia executives said on the earnings call that the company has already begun shipping alternative chips to China that don’t violate the restrictions. Clare Duffy, CNN, 21 Feb. 2024
Noun
The sales team may see one route and risks of alternatives while the operations team may see the opposite. Ryan Weissmueller, Forbes, 27 Feb. 2024 Rosemead’s Savannah Memorial Park began the year California became a state, 1850, and was many dead Protestants’ only alternative to Catholic graveyards. Patt Morrison, Los Angeles Times, 27 Feb. 2024 Related article The night train revolution has been hailed as an alternative to airplanes. CNN, 26 Feb. 2024 International flights still require a valid passport or acceptable alternative; a Real ID card alone will not suffice. The Indianapolis Star, 26 Feb. 2024 The Italian brand, based in the town of Carpi nearby Bologna, reported sales of more than $220 million last July and is known worldwide for being an alternative to the expensive offerings of the big luxury brands, with a keen eye for experimentation, trends and more affordable prices. Pino Gagliardi, The Hollywood Reporter, 26 Feb. 2024 People turn to it as a more budget-friendly alternative to Spanx’s viral AirEssentials Half-Zip Sweatshirt and AirEssentials Wide-Leg Pants, a similar set that’s been featured on Oprah’s Favorite Things list and regularly sells out for its softness and comfort. Olivia Young, Travel + Leisure, 25 Feb. 2024 But a veritable rainbow of alternatives—including blue, green, pink, and white hydrogen—could offer cleaner ways to use the fuel. Aarian Marshall, WIRED, 25 Feb. 2024 The two governmental agencies have been in constant contact since the meeting, and are looking at possible alternatives and solutions, according to the statement. Harrison Mantas, Fort Worth Star-Telegram, 24 Feb. 2024 See More

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

Word History

Etymology

Adjective

borrowed from Middle French & Medieval Latin; Middle French alternatif "occurring by turns, alternating," borrowed from Medieval Latin alternātīvus, from Latin alternātus, past participle of alternāre "to ebb and flow, act in alternation, arrange in alternating order" + -īvus -ive — more at alternate entry 1

Noun

borrowed from French & Medieval Latin; French alternative, going back to Middle French, borrowed from Medieval Latin alternātīva, noun derivative from feminine of alternātīvus "occurring by turns" — more at alternative entry 1

First Known Use

Adjective

1540, in the meaning defined at sense 3

Noun

1576, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Time Traveler
The first known use of alternative was in 1540

Dictionary Entries Near alternative

Cite this Entry

“Alternative.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/alternative. Accessed 2 Mar. 2024.

Kids Definition

alternative

1 of 2 adjective
al·​ter·​na·​tive ȯl-ˈtər-nət-iv How to pronounce alternative (audio)
 also  al-
1
: offering or expressing a choice
alternative plans
2
: being one of the things between which a choice is to be made : alternate
an alternative route
alternatively adverb
alternativeness noun

alternative

2 of 2 noun
1
: a chance to choose between two or more things only one of which may be chosen
the alternative of going by bus or car
2
: one of the things between which a choice is to be made

Medical Definition

alternative

adjective
al·​ter·​na·​tive ȯl-ˈtər-nət-iv, al- How to pronounce alternative (audio)
: of, relating to, or based on alternative medicine
alternative therapies

Legal Definition

alternative

1 of 2 adjective
al·​ter·​na·​tive ȯl-ˈtər-nə-tiv, al- How to pronounce alternative (audio)
1
2
: offering or expressing a choice
an alternative contract
see also alternative pleading at pleading sense 1b
3
: existing or functioning outside the established system
also : different from the usual or conventional
alternative sentencing

alternative

2 of 2 noun
1
: a proposition or situation offering a choice between two or more things only one of which may be chosen
2
a
: one of two or more things, courses, or propositions to be chosen
b
: something which can be chosen instead

More from Merriam-Webster on alternative

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