alternative

adjective
al·​ter·​na·​tive | \ ȯl-ˈtər-nə-tiv How to pronounce alternative (audio) , al-\

Definition of alternative

 (Entry 1 of 2)

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

alternative

noun

Definition of alternative (Entry 2 of 2)

1a : 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
2a : 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

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Other Words from alternative

Adjective

alternatively adverb
alternativeness noun

Synonyms for alternative

Synonyms: Noun

choice, discretion, druthers [dialect], election, liberty, option, pick, preference, selection, volition, way

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Noun

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.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

Meat-free diets have come a long way, with a variety of alternative options. Edvige Jean-françois, CNN, "Could fake meat burgers make cows obsolete?," 22 Aug. 2019 Who will be the best alternative at center if Weston Richburg can’t go Week 1? Cam Inman, The Mercury News, "49ers mailbag: How much will Garoppolo, starters play at Kansas City?," 21 Aug. 2019 After months of lurking in alternative media like Rogan’s show and The Rubin Report, more mainstream outlets started reaching out for interviews, and his poll numbers started to creep upward. Makena Kelly, The Verge, "YouTube shows have become a secret weapon for rising politicians," 20 Aug. 2019 The method would be an alternative to lethal injection. Mike Cason | Mcason@al.com, al, "Alabama AG’s office silent on new execution method," 14 Aug. 2019 However, the bucket for paying out cash-alternative claims is capped at $31 million⁠⁠—about 10% of the overall claim compensation fund Equifax set aside. Kate Cox, Ars Technica, "You’re probably not going to get your $125 from the Equifax settlement," 31 July 2019 Now, the alternative meat-makers are fighting back. New York Times, "What’s Meat Got to Do With It?," 25 July 2019 But unlike many of their commercial-alternative brethren, the members of Radiohead are interested in playing their instruments and in writing songs that challenge listeners to do more than just bang heads in the mosh pit. Anne Nickoloff, cleveland.com, "Radiohead’s minidisc release includes version of ‘Lift’ recorded in Cleveland," 14 June 2019 Meat-free diets have come a long way, with a variety of alternative options. Edvige Jean-françois, CNN, "Could fake meat burgers make cows obsolete?," 22 Aug. 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Bryce also gives Justin the bottle of Oxycodone as an alternative to heroin. Kaitlin Reilly, refinery29.com, "R29 Binge Club: 13 Reasons Why Season 3 Recap," 24 Aug. 2019 But what exactly are the Democratic presidential candidates proposing as an alternative? Michael Tanner, National Review, "Trump’s Trade Critics Don’t Offer Better Options," 21 Aug. 2019 President Donald Trump’s spiralling trade and currency wars threaten to topple Bretton Woods II, even as attractive alternatives to the system fade. The Economist, "What comes after Bretton Woods II?," 15 Aug. 2019 Both the city of Tempe and the Tempe Police Department tweeted warnings to avoid the area and recommended using Priest or McClintock drives as alternatives. Rocky Baier, azcentral, "Fire in north Tempe fills sky with smoke, shuts traffic," 14 Aug. 2019 As an alternative, the court could also assign a public administrator. Stephen Gandel, CBS News, "Who will get Jeff Epstein's hundreds of millions of dollars?," 12 Aug. 2019 Meanwhile, entertainment companies including HBO and Amazon Prime are positioning themselves as alternatives with new specials from Jim Gaffigan and Julio Torres that signal two very different strategies. Jason Zinoman, New York Times, "Can Netflix, the King of Stand-Up Specials, Be Dethroned?," 9 Aug. 2019 The night will also provide a contrast with more moderate candidates, such as South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke and Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar, poised to offer themselves as alternatives to the liberals. Sara Burnett, The Denver Post, "Debate gives some Democrats like Hickenlooper a last chance to shine," 30 July 2019 Former congressman John Delaney, former Colorado governor John Hickenlooper and Montana governor Steve Bullock all sought to establish themselves as moderate alternatives to Vermont senator Bernie Sanders and Massachusetts senator Elizabeth Warren. Tim Fernholz, Quartz, "A reminder to B-list Democratic candidates: The US has a bad health care system," 30 July 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'alternative.' 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 alternative

Adjective

1540, in the meaning defined at sense 3

Noun

1576, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for alternative

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

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Statistics for alternative

Last Updated

17 Sep 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for alternative

The first known use of alternative was in 1540

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More Definitions for alternative

alternative

adjective

English Language Learners Definition of alternative

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: offering or expressing a choice
: not usual or traditional
: existing or functioning outside of the established society

alternative

noun

English Language Learners Definition of alternative (Entry 2 of 2)

: something that can be chosen instead of something else : a choice or option

alternative

adjective
al·​ter·​na·​tive | \ ȯl-ˈtər-nə-tiv How to pronounce alternative (audio) \

Kids Definition of alternative

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: offering or expressing a choice alternative plans

Other Words from alternative

alternatively adverb I'll drive or, alternatively, we could walk.

alternative

noun

Kids Definition of alternative (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : a chance to choose between two things We had to move. There was no alternative.
2 : one of the things between which a choice is to be made As it got dark, our best alternative was to find shelter.

alternative

adjective
al·​ter·​na·​tive | \ ȯl-ˈtər-nət-iv, al- How to pronounce alternative (audio) \

Medical Definition of alternative

: of, relating to, or based on alternative medicine alternative therapies

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alternative

adjective
al·​ter·​na·​tive | \ ȯl-ˈtər-nə-tiv, al- How to pronounce alternative (audio) \

Legal Definition of alternative

 (Entry 1 of 2)

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

noun

Legal Definition of alternative (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : a proposition or situation offering a choice between two or more things only one of which may be chosen
2a : one of two or more things, courses, or propositions to be chosen
b : something which can be chosen instead
in the alternative
1 : for or as an alternative asked for specific performance, or in the alternative, damages of $20,000 a new trial may be asked for in the alternative
2 : in such a way that offers a choice the relief sought…may include relief in the alternativeFederal Rules of Civil Procedure Rule 8(a) plead in the alternative

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Comments on alternative

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