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

Keep scrolling for more

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.
See More
Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective But by midday, the Biden camp seemed to accept Trump at his word and began moving forward with alternative plans, including possibly holding their own town hall meeting on the 15th. Stuart Emmrich, Vogue, "Will There Be Any More Presidential Debates?," 8 Oct. 2020 Decision making is about formulating alternative plans of action, considering their consequences, and choosing between them. Quartz Staff, Quartz, "How companies can improve their decision-making process," 5 Oct. 2020 Meanwhile, some road warriors are making alternative plans. Chip Cutter, WSJ, "Grounded by Covid, Road Warriors Ponder Life Without Travel," 4 Oct. 2020 Lerner recommends thoroughly reading the CDC guidelines on safe school openings before making any alternative learning plans of your own. Jim Sergent, USA Today, "Learning pods help kids bridge social divide," 10 Sep. 2020 In impromptu interviews, Biden should be offering alternative plans for dealing with the virus, the lockdown, the economic recovery, the violence and the looting, the racial tensions. Victor Davis Hanson, National Review, "Biden Is a Prisoner of His Own Paradoxes," 3 Sep. 2020 In the meantime, the mayor’s office will review alternative plans provided by parading groups large and small. Doug Maccash, NOLA.com, "How might Mardi Gras 2021 work? Mobile wants 'creative outdoor alternatives' to parades," 2 Sep. 2020 The Magic, because of Jonathan Isaac’s devastating knee injury suffered in just his second game back after sitting out seven months with a previous knee injury, certainly need to at least start thinking about alternative plans. Mike Bianchi, orlandosentinel.com, "With Jonathan Isaac out all of next season, Magic future is cloudy | Commentary," 31 Aug. 2020 For the schools removing officers, CPS is planning to develop alternative safety plans involving emergency response agencies, families and community members. Hannah Leone, chicagotribune.com, "Police in Chicago Public Schools will get more training and oversight in reforms announced by Mayor Lori Lightfoot," 19 Aug. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Bronin also introduced his plan for the crisis response team as an alternative to armed law enforcement. Rebecca Lurye, courant.com, "Hartford civilian crisis response team to be lead by former Connecticut Children’s social worker," 15 Oct. 2020 Zoom's stock price has rocketed more then sevenfold this year, as millions of people have turned to the easy-to-use service as an alternative to meeting in person. Aaron Pressman, Fortune, "Zoom’s newest feature will provide a marketplace for virtual events and services," 14 Oct. 2020 As an alternative to Prime Day shopping, Best Buy has stepped to the plate with bases loaded! Houston Chronicle, "Black Friday deals are live at Best Buy and the prices are guaranteed," 13 Oct. 2020 Until then, masks and caution are our best alternative. New York Times, "A Dose of Optimism, as the Pandemic Rages On," 12 Oct. 2020 The president, who’s also barred WeChat, owned by China’s Tencent Holdings Ltd., has told ByteDance its only alternative is to sell its American TikTok business. Chris Dolmetsch, Bloomberg.com, "TikTok Judge Schedules Sunday Hearing as Trump’s Ban Looms," 25 Sep. 2020 His alternative to repealing the Seventeenth Amendment should be enacted immediately. Matt Ford, The New Republic, "Ben Sasse’s Plan to Save the Senate Will Bury It Instead," 10 Sep. 2020 San Francisco festival Outside Lands has announced the lineup for its 2020 virtual alternative Inside Lands. Taylor Mims, Billboard, "Inside Lands Festival to Feature Gorillaz, LCD Soundsystem, J. Cole & More," 18 Aug. 2020 Plus, a five- or six-speed stick of that era easily outperforms its three or four-speed slushbox alternative. Car and Driver, "10 Classic Cars You Didn't Know Had a Manual Transmission," 8 Aug. 2020

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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about alternative

Time Traveler for alternative

Time Traveler

The first known use of alternative was in 1540

See more words from the same year

Statistics for alternative

Last Updated

20 Oct 2020

Cite this Entry

“Alternative.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/alternative. Accessed 31 Oct. 2020.

Keep scrolling for more

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

Keep scrolling for more

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

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on alternative

What made you want to look up alternative? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

WORD OF THE DAY

Test Your Vocabulary

Here Be Dragons: A Creature Identification Quiz

  • monster werewolf photo
  • Which is a synonym of werewolf?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

TAKE THE QUIZ
Citation

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!