alternative

adjective
al·​ter·​na·​tive | \ ȯl-ˈtər-nə-tiv, 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

For an alternative source of energy, your liver will start to convert fat into ketones, which will then be released into the bloodstream and be used by your cells for energy. Karla Walsh, Woman's Day, "The Ultimate Keto Diet Foods List of What You Can (and Can't) Eat," 28 Dec. 2018 Some parks have closed, which leaves campers with reservations having to look for last-minute alternative vacations while other campgrounds are dealing with the consequences of too many people and not enough rangers and staff to care for them. Timothy Dahl, Popular Mechanics, "Trash Is Piling Up at National Parks Due to the Government Shutdown," 28 Dec. 2018 During the campaign trail, Abdo Benitez also vowed to improve the health system, develop alternative sources of energy and boost the agricultural sector which is the backbone of the economy. Fox News, "New president takes over in Paraguay, vows to cut poverty," 15 Aug. 2018 In the case of Venezuelans, the review determined that alternative sources of information were sufficient for vetting visa applicants. Laurence Arnold, Bloomberg.com, "Who's Welcome (or Not) in U.S. After Trump Ban Upheld," 27 June 2018 But state journalists said the goal is to compete with the spread of information from alternative online sources. Washington Post, "Cuba slightly loosens controls on state media," 22 June 2018 But state journalists said the goal is to compete with the spread of information from alternative online sources. Andrea Rodriguez, The Christian Science Monitor, "Cuba loosens grip on media, allows for more independent reporting," 21 June 2018 In addition, newspaper closure led to greater local government payroll and taxes per capita, suggesting greater government inefficiency and that alternative information sources couldn’t fill the accountability hole left by the closure. Kevin Lewis, BostonGlobe.com, "Judges vs. climate change," 1 June 2018 Like in many other cities, the post-Great Recession budget crisis produced a need for Doraville to find alternative sources of income, as did the loss of a GM plant a decade ago. Patrick Sisson, Curbed, "How the municipal court money machine burdens city residents," 24 May 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

But a better alternative might be for the cops to break it up and tell the men to move on. William Mcgurn, WSJ, "The Idea That Made America’s Cities Safer," 29 Dec. 2018 This alternative was not popular with Brexit supporters. Libby Nelson, Vox, "Vox Sentences: Theresa Maybe," 13 Dec. 2018 The alternative would be to charge an additional fee for apps and services consumers already receive for free: Cortana, Bing, and even (gulp!) some sort of annual Windows subscription. Mark Hachman, PCWorld, "A Microsoft 365 subscription for consumers wouldn't work without the Xbox," 12 Dec. 2018 The less cynical would say UCF’s schedule, not as rigorous as the other top teams, would deservedly keep the Knights out even if the alternative is teams that have lost two or even three games. Ralph D. Russo, The Seattle Times, "For 3rd week, ‘Bama, Clemson, ND, Mich top CFP; UCF’s path," 21 Nov. 2018 The alternative could be the jet’s greatest advantages being quietly turned against it, the extent of the damage known only once the shooting starts. Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics, "The F-35's Greatest Vulnerability Isn't Enemy Weapons. It's Being Hacked.," 14 Nov. 2018 An alternative that provides even better treatment to animals, unfortunately, is not. Cady Drell, Marie Claire, "Environmental Measures on the 2018 Midterm Election Ballots You Should Know About," 18 Oct. 2018 And no, alternatives are not universally accessible like plastic is. Claire Wolters, Philly.com, "Twitter can't agree on Starbucks' straw ban," 12 July 2018 An alternative to automatic voter registration, the organization said, is same-day voter registration. Anthony Man, Sun-Sentinel.com, "Florida could make it much easier for more than half a million people to vote," 11 July 2018

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

14 Jan 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 \

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- \

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- \

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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