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

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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 bill, which passed both chambers along party lines, would require the Department of Education to provide an initial practitioner license to an individual that completes an alternative teacher certification program, according to the bill digest. Hannah Reed, chicagotribune.com, "New law a help to combat teacher shortage, also a test for quality of work: Longtime Gary representative has doubts," 29 Apr. 2021 The state has assisted colleges, mass vaccination sites and other vaccine providers that have been using J&J to come up with alternative plans. Laura Hancock, cleveland, "Gov. Mike DeWine to give a coronavirus update after Johnson & Johnson shots suspended in Ohio: Watch live," 15 Apr. 2021 The delay has sent states scrambling for alternative plans such as using other data, utilizing previous maps, rewriting laws dealing with the deadlines or asking courts to extend deadlines. Mike Schneider, ajc, "16 states back Alabama's challenge to Census privacy tool," 13 Apr. 2021 The delay has sent states scrambling to come up with alternative plans since many will not get their data until after their legal deadlines for drawing new districts. Mike Schneider, Star Tribune, "EXPLAINER: What the release of 2020 census numbers means," 9 Apr. 2021 But its popularity now is fueled partly by an emphasis on alternative forms of protein and partly by a collective need to eat comforting foods during perilous times. Jenn Harris Columnist, Los Angeles Times, "The fried fish sandwich gets an upgrade at these L.A. restaurants," 24 Mar. 2021 The desire for alternative forms of healing is nothing new. Rachel Syme, The New Yorker, "Puzzling Through Our Eternal Quest for Wellness," 22 Mar. 2021 This is more of a fix for files that won’t open in your favorite image editor or word processor, but will open in an alternative program. David Nield, Popular Science, "How to open broken computer files," 14 Mar. 2021 Meanwhile, in Northern Canada, an alternative policing program known as Restorative Justice and Community Safety has set up a network of community safety officers within the Kwanlin Dün First Nation. Isabelle Kliger, Forbes, "Los Angeles, Seattle And New York Among The World’s “Ideal” Cities, Says New Book," 2 Mar. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Each sheet is 27″ x 17″ and this provides a more sustainable alternative to bubble wrap. Chris Hachey, BGR, "Best Packing and Moving Supplies," 4 May 2021 Along with Allen West, Miller’s name comes up often when grass-roots conservatives muse about an alternative to Abbott. New York Times, "The G.O.P. Won It All in Texas. Then It Turned on Itself.," 4 May 2021 Last month, the cheapest rental car on Maui was a Toyota Camry for $722 a day, Hawaii News Now reports, noting that visitors to the islands are turning to U-Hauls as a cheaper alternative. Chronicle Staff, San Francisco Chronicle, "Coronavirus news from the Bay Area: April 22-28, 2021," 2 May 2021 Its selling point was that the powdered mix was shelf-stable, and it was promoted as a healthier and more convenient alternative to fresh orange juice. Casey Barber, CNN, "Tang! The space-age drink that's still a worldwide staple," 1 May 2021 In a 2010 experiment aimed at developing an alternative to the hazardous chemicals used to clean up oil spills in Brazilian mangroves, her team demonstrated that oil-sucking bacteria could break down the oil and promote plant health and growth. Elizabeth Svoboda, Scientific American, "Will Probiotics Save Corals or Harm Them?," 1 May 2021 An alternative to calling 911 would send service providers instead of police to mental health crisis calls. Justin Fenton, baltimoresun.com, "Can Baltimore end the War on Drugs? As Marilyn Mosby takes lead on decriminalization, few public health alternatives are in place," 30 Apr. 2021 Moga said the city also is looking at an alternative to the Fourth of July parade, instead of canceling it altogether, like last year. Steve Lord, chicagotribune.com, "Aurora aims to hold two fireworks shows for Fourth of July," 30 Apr. 2021 The study estimates that residents of the District, Maryland and Virginia would drive 49 million fewer vehicle miles per year because of a new alternative to cars. Washington Post, "A new report says a plan for a nearly 900-mile network of trails would create 16,000 construction jobs and generate $1 billion a year.," 30 Apr. 2021

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

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

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Time Traveler for alternative

Time Traveler

The first known use of alternative was in 1540

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Statistics for alternative

Last Updated

6 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Alternative.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/alternative. Accessed 9 May. 2021.

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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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