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

The user’s development patterns appear to pay particular attention to AV evasion and alternative code execution techniques. Dan Goodin, Ars Technica, "Russia was likely behind dangerous critical infrastructure attack, report says," 24 Oct. 2018 More on alternative healing: Now watch Angela Bassett break down her most iconic movie looks: Follow Allure on Instagram and Twitter, or subscribe to our newsletter for daily beauty stories delivered right to your inbox. Brennan Kilbane, Allure, "Meet the Woman Who Uses Alternative Medicine and Gemstone Facials to Treat Patients," 19 Oct. 2018 Scientists started to abandon aether theory, and in its wake, an alternative model was proposed: Einstein’s theory of special relativity. Meg Neal, Popular Mechanics, "The Eternal Quest for Aether, the Cosmic Stuff That Never Was," 19 Oct. 2018 The burden of treatment is why a small study that shows promise for a simpler, cheaper alternative treatment to Type 1 diabetes is being met with hope — but also with caution and skepticism. Carmen Heredia Rodriguez, Washington Post, "Retooled Vaccine Raises Hopes As A Lower-Cost Treatment For Type 1 Diabetes," 13 July 2018 But Maguire, who had been already loosely linked with United over recent months as well, now appears to be a genuine alternative target. SI.com, "Man Utd Tipped to Make 'Huge Offer' for England World Cup Hero Harry Maguire," 13 July 2018 His favorite performance: the alternative band Gorillaz last September. Christopher Reynolds, latimes.com, "Sitting in the palm of nature: The unique energy — and performances — of Colorado's Red Rocks Amphitheatre," 12 July 2018 Two factors inspired me to imagine this alternative version of presidential history. Neil Swidey, BostonGlobe.com, "The backstory on this alternate version of presidential history," 10 July 2018 The city is home to music festivals and sporting events, the paper noted, ideal venues for alternative forms of transportation. Peter Holley, chicagotribune.com, "Scooter companies conquer with a simple strategy: act first, answer questions later," 22 June 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Here are the five best toilet and shower alternatives to a full bathroom in your camper van or RV. Megan Barber, Curbed, "RV toilets: 5 alternatives to a full bathroom in your camper," 9 Nov. 2018 From a recycling program for your favorite hair gel to free products for frequent shoppers, here are five alternatives to throwing out your leftover beauty products. Lauren Rearick, Teen Vogue, "5 Ways to Recycle Your Makeup," 26 Oct. 2018 The emphasis on celebrating each child (and creature)'s uniqueness may offer a welcome alternative to people who dislike the connotations of Elf of the Shelf. Caroline Picard, Good Housekeeping, "This New "Reindeer in Here" Toy Is the More Positive Version of Your Christmas Elf," 23 Oct. 2018 The city has its share of traffic woes, but there are alternatives to getting around by car. The Seattle Times, "Get in the groove with Seattle’s commuter-friendly vibe," 15 Oct. 2018 While bikes and scooters are certainly greener alternatives to cars, there is growing attention being paid to the proliferation of alternative modes of transportation in cities across the globe. Andrew J. Hawkins, The Verge, "Lime’s electric bikes and scooters are going completely ‘carbon free’," 9 Oct. 2018 There are more alternatives to traditional cable now than ever before, and most who go all-in on cutting the cord use a variety of those services simultaneously. Valentina Palladino, Ars Technica, "TiVo Bolt OTA review: For would-be cord-cutters with great antenna reception," 4 Oct. 2018 There are affordable alternatives out there that look just as good, and these two sofas (one from Crate & Barrel, one from Walmart) are proof. Brittney Morgan, House Beautiful, "This $300 Walmart Couch Looks Just Like This $2,000 Velvet Sofa," 24 Sep. 2018 For those not protesting, there are several alternatives for drivers wanting to avoid the protest and related police activity, which also could affect southbound traffic due to rubbernecking. Mary Wisniewski, chicagotribune.com, "How to get around Saturday if anti-violence protest blocks the Dan Ryan," 6 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

18 Nov 2018

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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