Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. The choice between two mutually exclusive possibilities.
  • n. A situation presenting such a choice.
  • n. Either of these possibilities. See Synonyms at choice.
  • n. Usage Problem One of a number of things from which one must be chosen.
  • adj. Allowing or necessitating a choice between two or more things.
  • adj. Existing outside traditional or established institutions or systems: an alternative lifestyle.
  • adj. Espousing or reflecting values that are different from those of the establishment or mainstream: an alternative newspaper; alternative greeting cards.
  • adj. Usage Problem Substitute or different; other.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • adj. Relating to a choice between two or more possibilities
  • adj. Not traditional, outside the mainstream, underground (e.g., alternative medicine, alternative lifestyle, alternative rock).
  • adj. this sense?) Other.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. Offering a choice of two things.
  • adj. Disjunctive.
  • adj. Alternate; reciprocal.
  • n. An offer of two things, one of which may be chosen, but not both; a choice between two things, so that if one is taken, the other must be left.
  • n. Either of two things or propositions offered to one's choice. Thus when two things offer a choice of one only, the two things are called alternatives.
  • n. The course of action or the thing offered in place of another.
  • n. A choice between more than two things; one of several things offered to choose among.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • Of two things, such that only one can be selected or only one is possible, etc.; mutually exclusive.
  • Affording a choice between two things, or a possibility of one thing out of two; given or offered for selection, as against something else: as, an alternative proposition; he presented an alternative statement.
  • Alternate; reciprocal. Holland.
  • In botany, having the parts of the inner whorl alternate with the outer: applied to the estivation or arrangement of the parts of the perianth in the bud.
  • n. A choice between two things; a possibility of one of two things.
  • n. One of two things of which either is possible or may be chosen.
  • n. In the Roman Catholic Church, an arrangement by which the pope nominates to vacant benefices only in alternate months, at other times leaving the nomination to the bishop of the diocese or to the regular patron. The month counted is that in which the benefice becomes vacant.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • adj. serving or used in place of another
  • adj. pertaining to unconventional choices
  • adj. necessitating a choice between mutually exclusive possibilities
  • n. one of a number of things from which only one can be chosen

Etymologies

From Middle French alternatif, from Medieval Latin alternativus, from the participle stem of Latin alternāre ("to do by turns"). Compare alternate. (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • Content-Type: multipart/alternative; boundary = "= _alternative 00809D0DC2257785_ ="

    The Web Security Mailing List (WASC)

  • Content-Type: multipart/alternative; boundary = "= _alternative 0082E6BDC2257785_ ="

    The Web Security Mailing List (WASC)

  • The term alternative medicine also called alternative treatments or alternative therapies describes any healing practice that is outside the boundaries of conventional Western medicine.

    The 10 Best Questions™ for Recovering from a Heart Attack

  • It also marked the first time I heard the term "alternative energy."

    Forbes.com: News

  • It takes him a moment to answer, The word alternative is a lot like the word option.

    Veracity

  • Now it's 2011 and most of those bands have made the label "alternative" essentially meaningless but we're going to look back for one night only at a beautiful, weird time in music by singing-along to the music videos of these musical pioneers/oddities.

    The Full Feed from HuffingtonPost.com

  • If you're a fan of comedy you've probably heard the phrase "alternative comedy" thrown around, but maybe you've never known exactly what that's supposed to...

    The Full Feed from HuffingtonPost.com

  • She said the union prefers the term alternative compensation pay to merit pay.

    coloradoan.com - Local News

  • In the United States the term alternative therapy is used to describe medical treatments or interventions that have not been scientifically documented or identified as safe and effective for a specific condition.

    Tips and Answers

  • Also, another alternative is the use of Plexiglas/magnetic storm windows such as those sold by Sears or ECP.

    SciFi, Fantasy & Horror Collectibles - Part 5950

Wordnik is becoming a not-for-profit! Read our announcement here.

Comments

Log in or sign up to get involved in the conversation. It's quick and easy.