alter

verb
al·​ter | \ ˈȯl-tər \
altered; altering\ -​t(ə-​)riŋ \

Definition of alter

transitive verb

1 : to make different without changing into something else an event that altered the course of history
2 : castrate, spay had the puppies altered

intransitive verb

: to become different customs that alter with the times

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from alter

alterability \ ˌȯl-​t(ə-​)rə-​ˈbi-​lə-​tē \ noun
alterable \ ˈȯl-​t(ə-​)rə-​bəl \ adjective
alterably \ -​blē \ adverb
alterer \ -​tər-​ər \ noun

Choose the Right Synonym for alter

change, alter, vary, modify mean to make or become different. change implies making either an essential difference often amounting to a loss of original identity or a substitution of one thing for another. changed the shirt for a larger size alter implies a difference in some particular respect without suggesting loss of identity. slightly altered the original design vary stresses a breaking away from sameness, duplication, or exact repetition. vary your daily routine modify suggests a difference that limits, restricts, or adapts to a new purpose. modified the building for use by the disabled

Examples of alter in a Sentence

Alcohol can alter a person's mood. He altered his will to leave everything to his sister. This one small event altered the course of history. The place has altered in the 10 years since I left. I'll need to have the dress altered before the wedding.
See More

Recent Examples on the Web

The idea that such a move would alter Raul Castro’s Cubans-for-hire racket is a daydream. Mary Anastasia O’grady, WSJ, "Baseball Teams Up With Castro," 30 Dec. 2018 Depending on the design, fireplaces can completely alter the feel and purpose of a room. Taylor Mead, House Beautiful, "Designers Reveal Why They Are Going Crazy Over Linear Fireplaces," 11 Dec. 2018 But chances are, that even with more accurate data the simulations will tell scientists what many of them already suspect: altering the earth’s climate is risky and carries a lot of side effects. Avery Thompson, Popular Mechanics, "Harvard Scientists Are Really Launching a Sun-Blocking Geoengineering Experiment," 5 Dec. 2018 The changes haven’t altered the town’s sense of community. Alex Bhattacharji, Condé Nast Traveler, "Why Telluride Keeps Being Named the Best U.S. Ski Town," 5 Dec. 2018 However, there’s no evidence that the White House has altered the assessment. Umair Irfan, Vox, "The National Climate Assessment shows that the costs of doing nothing on climate change are immense.," 26 Nov. 2018 But changes to those districts could have a cascading effect, altering the demographics of some of the 22 adjacent districts. Gregory S. Schneider, Washington Post, "Virginia Republicans ask U.S. Supreme Court to postpone new legislative boundaries," 9 July 2018 In other business, the Common Council voted to approve an ordinance altering the Gary city budget for this year – accommodating assorted grants that will pay for various municipal programs. Gregory Tejeda, Post-Tribune, "Gary approves new Port Board bylaws," 3 July 2018 After their trip, scientists will take a look inside different organs like the liver and spleen, to better understand any links between inflammation, altered metabolism, and changes to the microbiome. Megan Molteni, WIRED, "NASA's Astro-Mice Will Test What Space Does to Your Gut," 28 June 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'alter.' 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 alter

14th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1

History and Etymology for alter

Middle English, from Medieval Latin alterare, from Latin alter other (of two); akin to Latin alius other — more at else

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about alter

Statistics for alter

Last Updated

17 Jan 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for alter

The first known use of alter was in the 14th century

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for alter

alter

verb

English Language Learners Definition of alter

: to change (something)

: to make a change to (a piece of clothing) so that it will fit better

: to remove the sex organs of (an animal) so that the animal is unable to reproduce

alter

verb
al·​ter | \ ˈȯl-tər \
altered; altering

Kids Definition of alter

: to change partly but not completely … each time he had altered his course.— Walter Farley, The Black Stallion
al·​ter | \ ˈȯl-tər\
altered; altering\ -​t(ə-​)riŋ \

Medical Definition of alter

 (Entry 1 of 2)

alter

noun

Medical Definition of alter (Entry 2 of 2)

: one of the distinct identities or personality states manifested in an individual with multiple personality disorder

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on alter

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with alter

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for alter

Spanish Central: Translation of alter

Nglish: Translation of alter for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of alter for Arabic Speakers

Comments on alter

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

WORD OF THE DAY

important, real, or meaningful

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Homophone Quiz

  • three-bears-two-of-them-look-like-theyre-whispering-to-a-third-bear-who-looks-chuffed-to-be-the-center-of-attention
  • In order to judge how people felt, the senator's office hired a firm to take a ______.
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!