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 Chuck Carney, director of media relations for the university, said the school will work with its partners to make the public aware of alternative traffic routes. Kellie Hwang, Indianapolis Star, "I-69 project: Ind. 37 in Martinsville will close in 2021. Here's the official detour.," 10 Jan. 2020 The simmering conflict between Moscow and Kyiv has prompted Russia to seek alternative gas routes to Europe. Zeynep Bilginsoy, BostonGlobe.com, "Erdogan, Putin launch new gas line, vow Mideast diplomacy," 8 Jan. 2020 Russian carrier Ural Airlines was working up alternative routes for its flights to Bahrain, Dubai and Ras Al Khaimah to avoid flying over Iranian airspace, the carrier’s spokeswoman said Wednesday. Time, "FAA Bans U.S. Commercial Flights Over Iran and Iraq After Missile Barrage," 8 Jan. 2020 The authorities have also sought to crack down on smuggling by truck and shipping container, prompting migrants to seek alternative routes like the dangerous Channel crossing. Megan Specia, New York Times, "Migrants Crossing the English Channel to the U.K. Increased Sixfold in 2019," 3 Jan. 2020 Motorists are encouraged to visit idrivearkansas.com for information on road conditions and alternative routes. Tony Holt, Arkansas Online, "115 million travelers expected over next 2 weeks," 20 Dec. 2019 The only time a comparable increase in women’s use of 43rd and Skillman occurred was between 2015 and 2016, when cyclists had to choose alternative routes while Queens Boulevard’s bike lanes were under construction. Dasia Moore, Quartz, "Women love bikes—so why don’t they cycle to work?," 8 Dec. 2019 Police advise drivers to use Washington Street or Huron Street as alternative routes as traffic is funneled through the two open lanes. James Burky, The Denver Post, "Thornton crash closes two lanes on I-25 northbound, major delays expected," 4 Dec. 2019 According to Ewing, neither EFT or Energy Medicine is meant to replace talk therapy, and most traditional therapists don’t know much about these alternative methods. Jackie Pilossoph, chicagotribune.com, "Column: Chinese medicine experts offer novel techniques for managing teen anxiety," 10 Nov. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Is there any chance of Elizabeth Warren getting a look in New Hampshire as an alternative? Nr Staff, National Review, "Biden Falls While Bernie Rises," 7 Feb. 2020 Some pads are water resistant, acting as an alternative to a full mattress protector. Gabrielle Hondorp, Popular Mechanics, "The 7 Best Mattress Toppers to Save Your Back and Your Bed," 30 Jan. 2020 First came soy milk, offered in cafeterias as an alternative with which the lactose-intolerant could adulterate their covfefe. Mary Norris, The New Yorker, "Milk: It Does an Impeachment Good," 23 Jan. 2020 And the informal language has proven durable as it is now spoken by millions in Nigeria—and across West Africa—as an alternative to English. Yomi Kazeem, Quartz Africa, "These are the Nigerian English words added to the Oxford Dictionary," 23 Jan. 2020 The pair marketed Nuedexta as an alternative to opioid pain medication and said the drug could be used to wean patients off Tramadol, according to the plea agreement. Eric Heisig, cleveland, "Mayfield doctor agrees to cooperate with feds in probe into neurological drug’s marketing," 20 Jan. 2020 The compact was proposed as an alternative after the governor suggested $135 million in cuts, an act that forced regents to declare financial exigency. James Brooks, Anchorage Daily News, "Regents order 5% increase in resident tuition for University of Alaska," 18 Jan. 2020 Tru by Hilton hotels are marketed as an affordable alternative for younger travelers. Jeanne Houck, Cincinnati.com, "Next up in Milford: Riverfront development, hotels and a reborn Millcroft Inn," 17 Jan. 2020 Expand officer discretion to issue tickets as an alternative to arrest State law allows officers to issue a criminal citation as opposed to arrest only when the charge is a low-level misdemeanor punishable by up to 93 days in jail. Angie Jackson, Detroit Free Press, "18 ways Michigan could change its criminal justice process," 14 Jan. 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

11 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Alternative.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/alternatives. Accessed 17 Feb. 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

More Confusing Words—Quiz

  • cats on impossible timber
  • The magician ______ moved the selected card to the top of the deck.
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

TAKE THE QUIZ
Add Diction

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!