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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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

Alternatives: Burn the waste or ship it away The alternative methods likely boil down to either shipping trash, by rail, elsewhere, or building a waste-to-energy plant, which usually burns trash and uses the heat to make electricity. David Gutman, The Seattle Times, "King County’s landfill has been almost full for two decades. What happens next?," 26 Mar. 2019 Though Ratajkowski, Kardashian, and Hadid all wore their cargo pants with crop tops, the spring 2019 runways during Fashion Week presented some alternative ways to style them. Glamour, "It’s True: Cargo Pants Are Actually Coming Back," 14 Mar. 2019 In many school districts, proving residency requires state identification, a mortgage or rental statement, utility bills, and other alternative forms of identification. Jenn M. Jackson, Teen Vogue, "Access to Education for Black Children Proves Difficult for Their Parents, Creating a Disadvantage," 13 Mar. 2019 Shipping a brand-new phone without the technology means that people will need to find alternative ways to access its functionality, and iOS 12 is giving us exactly that. Jon Porter, The Verge, "iOS keyboard cursor now works on all devices running iOS 12," 24 Sep. 2018 Rather than providing communities with alternative strategies, many communities feel as though climate change policies further stigmatize them. Mélissa Godin, Teen Vogue, "Climate Change Is Creating a New Atmosphere of Gender Inequality for Women in Malawi," 20 Dec. 2018 Benioff’s top government affairs aide, Jim Green, was also included in the emails, and Green later would participate in August conference calls centered around an alternative plan, according to a person with knowledge of the calls. Theodore Schleifer, Recode, "Marc Benioff voiced concerns on a San Francisco homelessness measure months before becoming its most prominent booster," 18 Oct. 2018 The alt-right, short for alternative right, is a small, far-right movement that supports white identity or a whites-only state. Robert Costa, The Seattle Times, "Trump adviser Larry Kudlow hosted publisher of white nationalists at his home," 21 Aug. 2018 With Rwanda no longer a willing partner, the Israeli government dispatched an envoy to Uganda in an effort to secure an alternative destination. Brian Goldstone, The New Republic, "Essential reporting, interpretation, and opinion on politics and culture. Don't miss our latest.," 26 June 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

In the Suites at Market Square, one of High Point's main buildings, dozens of antique and vintage vendors also offer a more aged alternative to the newness rolling out each season. Hadley Keller, House Beautiful, "A Tiny North Carolina Town You've Never Heard of Makes Most of America's Furniture," 27 Mar. 2019 In other words, organizations typically send all clean-up straight to the bin (a better alternative than leaving it, but still perpetuating the cycle of waste). Karina Hoshikawa, Allure, "Herbal Essences Is Repackaging Several of Its Shampoos & Conditioners in Eco-Friendly Bottles," 15 Mar. 2019 If that happens, Weiss suggests alternatives like putting the ring on a necklace, wearing designs with breaks in the band, opting for larger sizes, or ditching rings altogether for the time being. Erica Gonzales, Harper's BAZAAR, "Meghan Markle Stepped Out without Her Engagement Ring with Prince Harry," 11 Mar. 2019 May emerged as the least objectionable alternative. Andrew Sullivan, Daily Intelligencer, "Did Trump Just Help Stop Brexit?," 13 July 2018 California would be better off to encourage private recycling options, incentivize people to use EPS in more environmentally friendly ways, or wait until alternatives become more viable. Camille Harmer, Fortune, "How Banning Plastic Straws Could Make Pollution Even Worse," 12 July 2018 After a 10-year delay, ahead of schedule is certainly better than the alternative. Jennifer Van Grove, sandiegouniontribune.com, "One Paseo: Inside the bustling construction site," 12 July 2018 Select a range of simple yet elegant glasses and plates with unexpected details in warm metallics that offer an updated alternative to the classic (but sometimes chilly) midcentury chrome. Heather Corcoran, ELLE Decor, "How to Bring Old Hollywood Into Your Home," 19 Mar. 2019 Finally, climate-conscious voters would have an alternative to more regulation and government spending. Ryan Costello, WSJ, "Lesson From 2018: Republicans Must Deal With Climate Change," 7 Jan. 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

see alternate entry 1

Noun

see alternate entry 1

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Statistics for alternative

Last Updated

8 Apr 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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