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

Eco-memory foam mattresses are wrapped in 5,000-thread-count linens and topped with down-alternative comforters and pillows. San Diego Union-Tribune, "New businesses include hotels in Encinitas, Escondido," 11 July 2019 Quick Hits + Tiny homes as affordable and alternative housing gain in popularity. The Denver Post, "Post Premium: Our best stories for the week of July 1-7," 7 July 2019 Meanwhile, at Logan Airport, flight cancellations and delays forced passengers to make alternative travel arrangements. Amanda Kaufman, BostonGlobe.com, "Lightning hits two homes; travelers delayed at Logan," 30 June 2019 Its timetable of putting alternative arrangements in place within three years may be unrealistic, but some ideas should still be considered. The Economist, "The search for ways to keep the Irish border open after Brexit," 29 June 2019 There are alternative explanations for their results, though. Katherine Ellen Foley, Quartz, "A new study that ties common medications to dementia highlights the need for early detection," 27 June 2019 Others looked for alternative explanations for the moving stars, clinging to Newton’s vision of the universe. Devin Powell, Discover Magazine, "How the 1919 Solar Eclipse Made Einstein the World's Most Famous Scientist," 24 May 2019 Maria Jasin of Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York, a co-corresponding author of the other Nature critique, said there may be alternative explanations to the Mitalipov team’s for how the repair occurred. Amy Dockser Marcus, WSJ, "Gene-Editing Technique in Human Embryos Draws Skepticism," 8 Aug. 2018 Our data suggests alternative explanations, beginning with the objective weakness of many Second Amendment claims. Joseph Blocher And Eric Ruben, Vox, "The Second Amendment allows for more gun control than you think," 14 June 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

The alternative is what happened in Christchurch, New Zealand. Jill Cowan, New York Times, "They Call Her ‘the Beyoncé of Earthquakes’: An Interview With Lucy Jones," 10 July 2019 The alternative at this point is, well, giving up on phones entirely — instead of just mostly. Dieter Bohn, The Verge, "Sony Xperia 1 review: tall phone falls short," 8 July 2019 In the alternative, the defense asked Pavia to order a new trial. David Owens, courant.com, "Glastonbury businessman Bruce Bemer sentenced to 10 years in prison in Danbury sex trafficking case," 17 June 2019 In another possible alternative the eight reactor plants could be cut into segments and packaged into several hundred small containers for disposal at a DOE or other licensed commercial waste facility. oregonlive.com, "Hanford could be resting place for aircraft carrier Enterprise’s nuclear reactors," 16 June 2019 The alternative is to continue building higher levees and stronger flood walls. Tristan Baurick, nola.com, "For some Mississippi River cities, there are only 2 choices — adapt or move: The River’s Revenge," 15 June 2019 Taking precautions will result in positive alternatives. Eugenia Last, The Mercury News, "Horoscopes: June 14, 2019," 14 June 2019 If the alternative to an all-in bet was another year of underwhelming returns, Toronto's choice was clear all year. Andrew Sharp, SI.com, "We The Champs: Kawhi, Masai and the Legend of the 2019 Raptors," 14 June 2019 Offer hope that alternatives are available but do not offer glib reassurance. Christopher Harress | Charress@al.com, al.com, "Body found hanged from tree near Fairhope in possible suicide," 10 June 2019

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

15 Jul 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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