Meaning of ALTERNATE in English


I. ˈȯltə(r)nə̇t also ˈal-; chiefly Brit ȯlˈtərn- or ˈtə̄n- also alˈt-; usu -ə̇d.+V adjective

Etymology: Latin alternatus, past participle of alternare, from alternus interchangeable, alternate — more at altern

1. : occurring or succeeding by turns : one following the other in time : by turns first one and then the other

alternate gain and loss

alternate periods of working and unemployment

: changing back and forth by turns : reciprocating

alternate favors between friends


a. : arranged first on one side and then on the other at different levels or points along an axial line : not side by side

stems with alternate leaves

alternate pitting in cell walls

— see phyllotaxy ; compare opposite

b. : disposed at intervals : arranged one above or alongside the other

alternate stamens and petals

alternate layers of brick and stone

3. : composed of members that occur or succeed by turns

recurring figures in an alternate pattern

4. : belonging to a series in which the members regularly intervene between or follow by turns the members of another series (as the odd or even members of the numerals) : every other : every second

the alternate members 1, 3, 5, and 7

the alternate verses of a responsive reading

a maid who works on alternate days

5. : alternative , substitute

this highway is an alternate route

copper may be used as an alternate material

make an alternate selection

• al·ter·nate·ly adverb

II. ˈȯltə(r)ˌnāt also ˈal-; usu -ād.+V verb

( -ed/-ing/-s )

transitive verb

: to perform by turns or in succession : cause to perform or succeed by turns : interchange regularly

alternate the melodies

alternate endurance tests

alternate pipe and cigar

intransitive verb

1. : to vary by turns

gravel and macadam alternate along the route

: take turns

singers who alternate in the leading role

— often used with between

the weather alternated between sunshine and storms

alternate between study and writing

2. : to happen, succeed, or act by turns : follow reciprocally — used with with

the flood and ebb tides alternate with each other

Synonyms: see rotate

III. like adj noun

( -s )

1. : a choice between two or among more than two objects or courses : alternative

the port is the alternate to New York as a shipping terminus

several basic alternates to expansion of the building

2. : one that takes the place of another : one that alternates with another: as

a. : an extra person appointed to take the place of another who is unable to perform his duty : substitute

delegates to the convention and their alternates

b. : a person that takes his turn often at regular intervals with another of equal rank in an occupation or in performing a duty

appointed alternate to the chief of staff

Webster's New International English Dictionary.      Новый международный словарь английского языка Webster.