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

Darrell West, vice president and director of governance studies at the Brookings Institution, said the primary highlighted alternative Democratic approaches to the electorate for women running in a heated 2018 cycle. Celeste Katz, Glamour, "With Georgia Democratic Primary Win, Stacey Abrams Is One Step Closer to Becoming the First Black Woman Governor," 22 May 2018 While intended to reduce alternative work arrangements and help unions, the rule caused uncertainty that slowed business expansion. The Editorial Board, WSJ, "The Real Cure for Economic Insecurity," 16 Jan. 2019 This alternative wilderness retreat is set in the heart of the Namib Naukluft wilderness, and only accessible by air. Carrie Goldberg, Harper's BAZAAR, "The 19 Best Places to Travel in 2019," 10 Jan. 2019 As critics of Goop-like brands that offer alternative health information and products have pointed out, anyone hawking their wares has some responsibility to separate fact from fiction. Justine Harman, Glamour, "These Self-Help Gurus Might Not Have Have Formal Training—But They Promise to Change Your Life," 20 Dec. 2018 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

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Fur Deluxe makes ballerina slippers from vintage fur, which are perfect alternatives to my ballet-flat uniform in the warmer months! Anny Choi, Vogue, "Vogue Staffers Pick the Best Shoes to Wear to Work This Winter," 25 Jan. 2019 There are alternatives to detention, including case management and ankle bracelets, that are cheaper and allow the government to monitor people before their hearing in front of an immigration judge. Dara Lind, Vox, "Trump administration to release hundreds of immigrant families from detention," 27 Dec. 2018 Now, back to your actual question: There for sure are alternatives! Casey Johnston, SELF, "Ask a Swole Woman: What Are the Best Pants for Lifting Weights?," 13 Dec. 2018 People are also starting to treat acne with light devices, which are great, effective alternatives to traditional treatments. Mona Gohara, Good Housekeeping, "5 Reasons You're Getting Back Acne — And How to Make It Go Away," 7 Dec. 2018 Post-independence, Indians adopted it as an alternative to the business suit, although it’s now seen as passe. Nancy Macdonell, WSJ, "Why ‘Safari’ Style is No Longer Politically Correct," 23 Jan. 2019 As an alternative for those who don’t like the greasy texture of an ointment, Hu also recommends Curel Hydra Therapy Wet Skin Moisturizer for Dry and Extra-Dry Skin, $9. Talia Abbas, SELF, "11 Tips for How to Treat Eczema During the Winter," 7 Jan. 2019 As an alternative, choose no-VOC paints, primers, and stains, and off-gas all new furniture in a garage or storage area before introducing it into your newborn’s space. Jennifer Fernandez, House Beautiful, "6 Nursery-Decorating Mistakes To Avoid For Your Baby’s Health," 19 Dec. 2018 Manufacturers could turn to AMD’s Ryzen chips as an alternative, too. Mark Hachman, PCWorld, "Intel supply woes could lead to pricier PCs, or a stampede to AMD's Ryzen," 28 Sep. 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

11 Feb 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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