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

Choose the Right Synonym for alternative

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 There are currently six alternative sites across the state, treating about 117 patients. Aidin Vaziri, SFChronicle.com, "Bay Area ICU availability plummets to 0.7% as California tops 30,000 deaths," 11 Jan. 2021 Other conservatives railed against Facebook on alternative social media sites like Parler and Gab, two Twitter-like platforms that the far-right have flocked to for their laissez-faire attitudes toward speech. New York Times, "Facebook Bars Trump Through End of His Term," 7 Jan. 2021 One of the alternative sites is the Fairview Developmental Center in Orange County. Los Angeles Times, "Facing ‘a grim set of weeks,’ California opens COVID field hospitals across the state," 16 Dec. 2020 The tests will be administered on school campuses or at secure alternative testing sites, according to a TEA press release. Emily Donaldson, Dallas News, "Texas cancels A-F accountability grades for schools, keeps STAAR for students," 10 Dec. 2020 In another attempt to help, the state is activating the first two of 11 alternative care sites that have a total capacity of 1,862 beds. Robert Hopwood, USA TODAY, "In California: COVID-19 peak has not arrived. Musk moves to Texas. And wither Coachella?," 9 Dec. 2020 For completely different reasons, these congressmen and senators want to eliminate the one law that’s essential for Parler, Rumble, and future alternative sites to host user content: Section 230. Rick Santorum, National Review, "Help Conservative Alternatives to Facebook and Twitter. Save Section 230," 2 Dec. 2020 Woodard put together the task force to identify alternative sites. Mike Cason | Mcason@al.com, al, "COVID-19 has Alabama lawmakers considering new site for next year’s session," 23 Nov. 2020 Although the Center for Disease Control recommends states consider setting up alternative voting sites for sick people, Indiana does not have those measures in place. Lawrence Andrea, The Indianapolis Star, "Quarantined Hoosiers can vote by traveling board. Counties aren't sure how it will work.," 27 Oct. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun The light gray alternative is still fully stocked in every size. Eliza Huber, refinery29.com, "Gigi Hadid’s £89 Plaid Coat Is On-Trend — & Still Available," 12 Jan. 2021 Fox News host Judge Jeanine Pirro compared a handful of Big Tech companies ceasing their relationship with Parler, taking the Twitter alternative offline, to one of the earliest events of the Holocaust. Mike Brest, Washington Examiner, "Judge Jeanine: Parler getting shut down is 'akin to a Kristallnacht'," 11 Jan. 2021 Bangladesh, for one, has grown into the world’s second-largest clothing exporter because of its low costs, while Vietnam has become a favorite alternative to China for producing sneakers and textiles. Marc Bain, Quartz, "If China no longer wants to be the world’s factory, who will take its place?," 9 Jan. 2021 In the alternative, the city could accept $398,574 to put toward parks development in the northeast quadrant of the city. Stacy Ryburn, Arkansas Online, "Fayetteville parks board opts for fee over park land for subdivision," 6 Jan. 2021 Threats have also been posted to Parler, a Twitter alternative favored by conservatives and users who have been banned from larger platforms for hate speech, misinformation or other policy violations. NBC News, "Violent threats ripple through far-right internet forums ahead of protest," 6 Jan. 2021 From pop to hip-hop to alternative to K-pop to country, the choices made available feel endless -- not to mention vinyl, re-releases and collectible editions. Billboard Staff, Billboard, "Looking Ahead: A Release Calendar For Upcoming Albums," 4 Jan. 2021 Included in the elixir are nine nutrient dense oils including bakuchiol (a retinol alternative), an organic amla (a vitamin C superfood), and a vitamin A-rich cacay. Roxanne Adamiyatt, Town & Country, "Gwyneth Paltrow Launches the Latest Goop Product In the Most Relatable Way Possible," 4 Jan. 2021 Yes, so a scientific answer and then an alternative. CBS News, "Transcript: Moncef Slaoui on "Face the Nation," January 3, 2021," 3 Jan. 2021

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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Time Traveler for alternative

Time Traveler

The first known use of alternative was in 1540

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Statistics for alternative

Last Updated

18 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

“Alternative.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/alternative. Accessed 22 Jan. 2021.

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More Definitions for alternative

alternative

adjective
How to pronounce alternative (audio)

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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