AskDefine | Define alternate

Dictionary Definition

alternate adj
1 every second one of a series; "the cleaning lady comes on alternate Wednesdays"; "jam every other day"- the White Queen [syn: alternate(a)]
2 allowing a choice; "an alternative plan" [syn: alternative]
3 occurring by turns; first one and then the other; "alternating feelings of love and hate" [syn: alternate(a), alternating(a)]
4 of leaves and branches etc; first on one side and then on the other in two ranks along an axis; not paired; "stems with alternate leaves" [ant: opposite] n : someone who takes the place of another person [syn: surrogate, replacement]


1 go back and forth; swing back and forth between two states or conditions [syn: jump]
2 exchange people temporarily to fulfill certain jobs and functions
3 be an understudy or alternate for a role [syn: understudy]
4 reverse (a direction, attitude, or course of action) [syn: interchange, tack, switch, flip, flip-flop]
5 do something in turns; "We take turns on the night shift" [syn: take turns]

User Contributed Dictionary



From alternare, alternus, from alter. See altern, alter.


  • a US /ˈɔl.tɚ.nət/
  • sense verb a US /ɔl.tɚˈnet/


  1. Being or succeeding by turns; one following the other in succession of time or place; by turns first one and then the other; hence, reciprocal.
    And bid alternate passions fall and rise. -Pope
  2. Designating the members in a series, which regularly intervene between the members of another series, as the odd or even numbers of the numerals; every other; every second.
    the alternate members 1, 3, 5, 7, etc.
  3. Other; or as common misuse when meaning alternative.
  4. Distributed, as leaves, singly at different heights of the stem, and at equal intervals as respects angular divergence. --Gray.


being or succeeding by turns
mathematics: designating the members in a series
  • Swedish: varannan (=every second; every other)
other; alternative
  • Swedish: alternativ
botany: distributed, as leaves


  1. That which alternates with something else; vicissitude.
    Grateful alternates of substantial. -Prior
  2. (Misuse) A substitute; an alternative; one designated to take the place of another, if necessary, in performing some duty.
  3. A proportion derived from another proportion by interchanging the means.
  4. A replacement of equal or greater value or function.
  5. Figures or tinctures that succeed each other by turns.


that which alternates
  • Swedish: vikarie (replacing as a workman), ersättare (replacing as a member of a committee, board, etc.)
proportion derived from another
figures or tinctures


  1. To perform by turns, or in succession; to cause to succeed by turns; to interchange regularly.
  2. To happen, succeed, or act by turns; to follow reciprocally in place or time;—followed by with; as, the flood and ebb tides alternate with each other.
  3. To vary by turns; as, the land alternates between rocky hills and sandy plains.


to perform by turns
to happen, succeed, or act by turns
to vary by turns


Heraldry 1862}}



Extensive Definition

An alternative is an object or action which can be chosen. Alternative may refer to:

other music

mathematics and science


culture and society

alternate in Spanish: Alternativa
alternate in French: Alternative
alternate in Indonesian: Alternatif
alternate in Italian: Troops of Tomorrow#Alternative
alternate in Dutch: Alternatief
alternate in Japanese: オルタナティブ
alternate in Portuguese: Alternativa
alternate in Russian: Альтернатива
alternate in Simple English: Alternative
alternate in Slovak: Alternatíva

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

advocate, agent, alter ego, alternating, alternative, amicus curiae, analogy, attorney, back and fill, back-and-forth, backup, backup man, bandy, battledore and shuttlecock, be here again, be quits with, beating, champion, change, changeling, circle, circling, come again, come and go, come around, come round, come round again, come up again, commute, comparison, compensate, complementary, cooperate, copy, corresponding, counterchange, counterfeit, cover, cycle, cyclic, deputy, dither, do a hitch, do a stint, do a tour, do time, double, dummy, ebb and flow, enlist, epochal, equal, equivalent, equivocate, ersatz, even, every other, exchange, exchangeable, executive officer, exponent, fake, figurehead, fill in for, fill-in, flounder, fluctuate, get back at, get even with, ghost, ghostwriter, give and take, go through phases, have a go, have tenure, hitch and hike, hold office, imitation, in rotation, interchange, interchangeable, intermit, intermittent, isochronal, isochronous, keep a watch, lieutenant, locum, locum tenens, logroll, makeshift, measured, metaphor, metonymy, metronomic, mock, next best thing, oscillate, oscillatory, other, paranymph, pass and repass, pay back, pendulate, periodic, periodical, permute, personnel, phony, pinch, pinch hitter, pleader, procurator, provisional, proxy, pulsate, pulse, pulsing, re-up, reappear, reciprocal, reciprocate, reciprocative, recur, recurrent, recurring, reenlist, relief, relieve, reoccur, repeat, replacement, replacing, representative, requite, reserve, reserves, respond, retaliate, return, return the compliment, revolve, rhythmic, ride and tie, ring the changes, ringer, roll around, rotary, rotate, rotating, seasonal, second, second in command, second string, secondary, seesaw, serial, serve time, shift, shilly-shally, shuffle, shuttle, shuttlecock, sign, sign up, sine wave, spare, spares, spell, spell off, stagger, stand-in, steady, stopgap, sub, substituent, substitute, substitution, succedaneum, succeed, successive, superseder, supplanter, surrogate, swap, sway, swing, switch, symbol, synecdoche, take turns, teeter, teeter-totter, temporary, tentative, tergiversate, third string, time off, to-and-fro, token, totter, trade, transpose, turn, understudy, undulant, undulate, undulatory, up-and-down, utility, utility man, utility player, vacillate, variant, vary, vicar, vicar general, vicarious, vice, vice-president, vice-regent, vicegerent, wavelike, waver, wax and wane, wheel, wheel around, wheeling, wibble-wabble, wigwag, wobble, zigzag
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