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[awl-ter] /ˈɔl tər/
verb (used with object)
to make different in some particular, as size, style, course, or the like; modify:
to alter a coat; to alter a will; to alter course.
to castrate or spay.
verb (used without object)
to change; become different or modified.
Origin of alter
1350-1400; Middle English < Old French alterer < Late Latin alterāre to change, worsen, derivative of Latin alter other
Related forms
alterer, noun
half-altered, adjective
prealter, verb (used with object)
realter, verb
unaltering, adjective
well-altered, adjective
Can be confused
altar, alter.
Synonym Study
1. See adjust, change. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for unaltering
Historical Examples
  • In all but the unaltering fire of friendship I could see change creeping on.

  • Let your altar be to the 'Unknown God,' if you like—for who can give an unaltering likeness to the Power above us?

    Beatrice H. Rider Haggard
  • It was practised for thousands of years and opposed its unaltering form to the multiplicity of legends and local beliefs.

  • Her face wore a settled and unaltering expression of something missed yet never to that day for one moment forgotten.

    Of Walks and Walking Tours Arnold Haultain
  • The tree waves softly all night in the unaltering lamplight, and the moonlight is killed upon its leaves.

    London Impressions Alice Meynell
  • "Other Fellow," was all he said, when she leaned towards him with her unaltering love of glance and smile.

    From the Car Behind

    Eleanor M. Ingram
  • The unaltering constituent of the soul corresponds to character, while intellectual qualities are variable.

British Dictionary definitions for unaltering


to make or become different in some respect; change
(transitive) (informal, mainly US) a euphemistic word for castrate, spay
Derived Forms
alterable, adjective
alterably, adverb
alterability, noun
Word Origin
C14: from Old French alterer, from Medieval Latin alterāre to change, from Latin alter other
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for unaltering



late 14c., "to change (something)," from Old French alterer "change, alter," from Medieval Latin alterare "to change," from Latin alter "the other (of the two)," from PIE *al- "beyond" (see alias (adv.)) + comparative suffix -ter (cf. other). Intransitive sense "to become otherwise" first recorded 1580s. Related: Altered; altering.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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