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

Farrah later decided to split time between her California home and a clinic in Germany that provided alternative treatments, Vanity Fair reported. Megan Stein, Country Living, "Inside Farrah Fawcett's Heartbreaking Cancer Battle," 24 May 2019 Our take: The Playdate is great news for gamers looking for an alternative innovation fix in the handheld realm. Brittany Vincent, Popular Mechanics, "What Could This New Handheld System Mean for the Future of Gaming?," 23 May 2019 See the best alternative Coachella style (so far), below. Vogue, "From Virgil Abloh to Jaden Smith, Here’s the Best Alternative Style at Coachella So Far," 15 Apr. 2019 Some alternative health providers may suggest a notoriously unreliable test to look at the level of indigestible sugars (lactulose and mannitol) in your urine. Sarah Jacoby, SELF, "Leaky Gut Syndrome Isn’t an Official Diagnosis, but the Symptoms Are Real," 19 Mar. 2019 Starting in the 1970s, Congolese artist Kingelez envisioned vibrant buildings and cities of the future with paper, cardboard, plastic, and packaging, sculpting an alternative vision to the post-colonial development of Kinshasa. Curbed Staff, Curbed, "18 enticing new books on design, cities, and more," 14 Dec. 2018 Then people begin to cast about for alternative models. Eric Johnson, Recode, "Full Q&A: ‘Temp’ author Louis Hyman on Recode Decode," 29 Aug. 2018 Yet the Labor Department’s Contingent Work Survey last summer showed that a mere 10.1% of workers were employed in alternative work arrangements, about the same as in 1997. The Editorial Board, WSJ, "The Real Cure for Economic Insecurity," 16 Jan. 2019 About 16 million Americans, or 10.4% of the labor force, were contingent workers or had other alternative work arrangements in May 2017, according to the report by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Paul Davidson, USA TODAY, "What gig economy? Fewer working as freelancers, contractors than believed," 7 June 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

The backlash against single-use plastic has engulfed straws, bags and takeout containers, but the plastics industry is fighting back, arguing alternatives can be worse for the environment and disruptive for businesses. Saabira Chaudhuri, WSJ, "In Plastic-Bag Wars, the Industry Fights Back," 20 May 2019 Sending a criminal to the Night's Watch is often given as an alternative instead of being killed. Katherine J. Igoe, Marie Claire, "Why Doesn't Jon Snow Rule Westeros at the End of 'Game of Thrones'?," 20 May 2019 Short of less violent options, the only alternative might be to cull the population, although Russia's main environmental watchdog has so far refused to issue hunting licenses to civilians. Sam Blum, Popular Mechanics, "'Mass Invasion' of Polar Bears Descends on Remote Russian Village in Search of Food," 11 Feb. 2019 Level 4 alternatives are pure cultured animal cells like the products Memphis Meats and others are working on. Joi Ito, WIRED, "Fake Meat, Served Six Ways," 2 July 2018 With bright pastel makeup statements sweeping red carpets and Instagram feeds as of late, actress Sophie Turner has offered a refreshing alternative for lids craving creativity. Jenna Rennert, Vogue, "Sophie Turner's Cool-Girl Makeup Is Straight Out of Winterfell," 15 May 2019 Alternatively, trail runners offer a lightweight, low-cut alternative. James Lynch, Popular Mechanics, "The Best Hiking Boots for Exploring the Outdoors," 9 Apr. 2019 By accelerating development of the Long March 9 rocket, Chinese officials could be offering a viable alternative to NASA's plans to other potential partners sooner. Eric Berger, Ars Technica, "China appears to be accelerating development of a super-heavy lift rocket," 19 Sep. 2018 If Verizon and other wireless providers can offer a viable alternative to cable, satellite, and their ilk, consumers could enjoy lower prices as well as more choices. Martyn Williams, PCWorld, "Verizon could provide the first 5G home Internet service in the United States, coming in October," 12 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

3 Jun 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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