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

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from alternative

Adjective

alternatively adverb
alternativeness noun

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.
See More
Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective Crickets match cows in their protein value, but raising cattle requires thirteen times more space to produce the same amount of meat, making insects an earth-conscious alternative to industrial mammal husbandry. Anna Kordunsky, The New Yorker, "The Case for Eating Crickets," 28 May 2020 As part of their deal, Netanyahu will remain prime minister for the next 18 months, and alternative prime minister for the 18 months after, and will not be legally required to step down during what is expected to be a lengthy trial. Time, "Prime Minister Netanyahu Attacks Israel's Justice System as His Corruption Trial Begins," 24 May 2020 At that point, any juvenile lawbreakers who are sentenced to custody will be placed in a county juvenile hall or alternative local setting. Bob Egelko, SFChronicle.com, "Newsom proposes closing youth prisons as crime drops and coronavirus drains budget," 24 May 2020 White nationalists have created an alternative online narrative to support their claims of anti-white bias in society. Washington Post, "The Technology 202: Coronavirus crisis has not stopped antitrust crackdown in Washington," 16 May 2020 Amid social and economic chaos, with most people holed up inside, the days having melted into a shapeless slurry, Animal Crossing serves up unexpected consolation by offering surrogate habits—a structured, if fictional, alternative to normal life. Ian Bogost, The Atlantic, "There Are No Losers in the Animal Crossing Economy," 15 Apr. 2020 The organization will work with local governments to consider alternative options to shelters, such as hotels or dorms, Trevor Riggen, senior vice president for disaster cycle services at the Red Cross, told Weather.com. Harmeet Kaur, CNN, "Storm safety should take priority over coronavirus concerns, state officials and weather experts warn," 11 Apr. 2020 Here’s a guide to alternative and boutique retailers that offer art-house movies to stream. Diya Chacko, Los Angeles Times, "Coronavirus Today: What a return to normal might look like," 10 Apr. 2020 These challenges, some advocates fear, could lead to a surge in children being placed in the system, where too few foster parents like the Storys, or alternative placements, may exist. Crystal Hill, Indianapolis Star, "As Indiana families adapt to 'new normal,' advocates worry about vulnerable children," 8 Apr. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Thankfully, that’s exactly what's happening—in part because the White House blocked experts from testifying before the House of Representatives earlier this month, leaving the Senate as the only alternative. Graeme Mcmillan, Wired, "While You Were Offline: The Summer of Covid-19," 17 May 2020 These are the reasons real estate agents tout a compact, detached dwelling on a sliver of land as a condo or townhouse alternative. oregonlive, "Portland homes for sale on really small lots have low property taxes," 16 May 2020 There are multiple alternatives that Sikhs and others can and should be provided. Alaa Elassar, CNN, "Two Sikh doctors shaved their beards, a pillar of their religion, to treat Covid-19 patients. But community groups say there are alternatives," 16 May 2020 As cancellations stack up, virtual alternatives have emerged in their stead, offering not only outlets for fans stuck at home and hungry for entertainment but also a glimpse at the future. Roberto Baldwin, Car and Driver, "Is This Real Life? E-Racing Takes the Wheel," 16 May 2020 Aside from any ideological or educational barriers, there's also a socio-economic barrier to meat alternatives for many communities. Rachel King, Fortune, "Plant-based food sales see greatest gains yet as meat shortage fears grow," 15 May 2020 Bartering and bargain hunting provide a much more worthwhile alternative. BostonGlobe.com, "Horoscope," 15 May 2020 For those unable to secure release, the alternative seems to be these flights, exporting a plague to vulnerable nations across the hemisphere, and dumping deportees into an entirely different sort of crisis. Laura Weiss, The New Republic, "Trump’s Deportation Flights Are Inflaming the Pandemic," 14 May 2020 Those who qualify for regular unemployment benefits are not eligible for this alternative. Jessie Balmert, Cincinnati.com, "Coronavirus in Ohio: Self-employed, part-time workers can now apply for unemployment," 13 May 2020

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.

See More

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

borrowed from Middle French & Medieval Latin; Middle French alternatif "occurring by turns, alternating," borrowed from Medieval Latin alternātīvus, from Latin alternātus, past participle of alternāre "to ebb and flow, act in alternation, arrange in alternating order" + -īvus -ive — more at alternate entry 1

Noun

borrowed from French & Medieval Latin; French alternative, going back to Middle French, borrowed from Medieval Latin alternātīva, noun derivative from feminine of alternātīvus "occurring by turns" — more at alternative entry 1

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about alternative

Time Traveler for alternative

Time Traveler

The first known use of alternative was in 1540

See more words from the same year

Statistics for alternative

Last Updated

2 Jun 2020

Cite this Entry

“Alternative.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/alternative. Accessed 2 Jun. 2020.

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for alternative

alternative

adjective
How to pronounce alternative (audio)

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

Keep scrolling for more

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

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on alternative

What made you want to look up alternative? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

WORD OF THE DAY

See Definitions and Examples »

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

May 2020 Words of the Day Quiz

  • a blooming wisteria tree
  • Which is a synonym of exiguous?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

TAKE THE QUIZ
Syn City

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!