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

The supermodel is wearing a logo hat boasting the letters OPN by the alternative artist Oneohtrix Point Never. Vogue, "Emily Ratajkowski’s Wardrobe Malfunction Is Instagram Gold," 1 May 2019 The decision came after failing to restructure, obtain alternative financing or find a buyer, Johnson Publishing said in a news release. ... Aisha Al-muslim, WSJ, "Johnson Publishing Files for Bankruptcy, Plans to Sell Assets," 9 Apr. 2019 If asbestos has remained in talcum powder in recent decades, this could provide an alternative mechanism for carcinogenesis. Tara C. Smith, SELF, "How Worried Do You Need to Be About Asbestos in Baby Powder and Other Talc Products?," 31 Jan. 2019 There’s an alternative 2FA method that doesn’t receive as much attention: a physical hardware dongle, like a YubiKey, that authenticates by being physically inserted into your PC. Mark Hachman, PCWorld, "You can now use your Android phone as a security dongle for two-factor authentication," 10 Apr. 2019 The tool provides real-time product information, inventory availability and alternative product recommendations. Sara Castellanos, WSJ, "Dick’s Tech Chief Goes All Out on In-House Software," 26 Mar. 2019 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

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

If want an alternative to the prairie trend but are tired of the same-old florals, toile-print dresses are a happy medium that aren't absolutely everywhere yet (just yet). Glamour, "This New Spring Dress Trend Is So Much Prettier Than Florals," 20 Apr. 2019 Photo composite: Crystal Tai/The Wall Street Journal Politicians in the old world and the middle kingdom have long had a common interest in developing alternatives to U.S. unilateralism. Nathaniel Taplin, WSJ, "Europe Wants a Better Deal With China Too," 11 Apr. 2019 The contributions made by the Microsoft developers are addressing these various issues—adding ARM64 build targets, specifying the right compilers and Windows SDK versions, providing alternatives to x86-specific code, and so on. Peter Bright, Ars Technica, "Microsoft joining Qualcomm and Google to bring Chrome to Windows on ARM," 21 Nov. 2018 The votes are in: BWI is a hands-down winner for travelers seeking alternatives to D.C.’s congested air hubs. Barbara Peterson, Condé Nast Traveler, "The Best Airports in the U.S.: 2018 Readers' Choice Awards," 9 Oct. 2018 Good news for those with sensitive skin: Finally, skin-care formulas are starting to include a less-irritating, natural alternative to retinol. Macaela Mackenzie, Allure, "What Is Bakuchiol? Experts Explain the Benefits of the Natural Alternative to Retinol," 7 Sep. 2018 The schools instead became charters, publicly funded alternatives to existing schools that got lackluster results in the inner cities of Baltimore and Philadelphia, where Whittle had been awarded contracts. Sam Tanenhaus, Town & Country, "Can Chris Whittle Launch a Truly Global School?," 10 July 2018 The capacity analysis will consider different ways to keep the trains moving and recommend alternatives to the holding track, Owen said. Alexandra Kukulka, chicagotribune.com, "Continuing Amtrak Hiawatha fight, Glenview to pay for $160,000 train traffic analysis," 10 July 2018 Those highways present a rare alternative to I-35; a recurring theme at a November meeting in New Braunfels between the MPOs’ transportation policy boards was the lack of transit options along the corridor. Jasper Scherer, San Antonio Express-News, "San Antonio-Austin MPOs working to ready I-35 for population boom," 5 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

6 May 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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