v., adj., & n.
v. 1 intr. (often foll. by with) (of two things) succeed each other by turns (rain and sunshine alternated; elation alternated with depression). 2 intr. (foll. by between) change repeatedly (between two conditions) (the patient alternated between hot and cold fevers). 3 tr. (often foll. by with) cause (two things) to succeed each other by turns (the band alternated fast and slow tunes; we alternated criticism with reassurance).
adj. 1 (with noun in pl.) every other (comes on alternate days). 2 (of things of two kinds) each following and succeeded by one of the other kind (alternate joy and misery). 3 (of a sequence etc.) consisting of alternate things. 4 Bot. (of leaves etc.) placed alternately on the two sides of the stem. 5 = ALTERNATIVE.
n. esp. US a deputy or substitute. alternate angles two angles, not adjoining one another, that are formed on opposite sides of a line that intersects two other lines. alternating current an electric current that reverses its direction at regular intervals. alternately adv.
[ L alternatus past part. of alternare do things by turns f. alternus every other f. alter other ]