- to interchange repeatedly and regularly with one another in time or place; rotate (usually followed by with): Day alternates with night.
- to change back and forth between conditions, states, actions, etc.: He alternates between hope and despair.
- to take turns: My sister and I alternated in doing the dishes.
- Electricity. to reverse direction or sign periodically.
- Linguistics. to occur as a variant in alternation with another form.
- to perform or do in succession or one after another: to alternate comedy acts; to alternate jogging and walking.
- to interchange successively or regularly: to alternate hot and cold compresses.
- being in a constant state of succession or rotation; interchanged repeatedly one for another: Winter and summer are alternate seasons.
- reciprocal; mutual: alternate acts of kindness.
- every second one of a series: Read only the alternate lines.
- constituting an alternative: The alternate route is more scenic.
- alternative(defs 4, 6).
- placed singly at different heights on the axis, on each side in succession, or at definite angular distances from one another, as leaves.
- opposite to the intervals between other organs: petals alternate with sepals.
- a person authorized to fill the position, exercise the duties, etc., of another who is temporarily absent; substitute.
- either of two actors who take turns playing the same role.
- an understudy.
Origin of alternate
Related Words for alternatelywillingly, sooner, infrequently, occasionally, periodically, rather, alternative, preferably, alternately, irregularly, sometimes, vacillating, sporadically, fluctuating, variably, first, alternatively, hardly, intermittent, scarcely
Examples from the Web for alternately
Contemporary Examples of alternately
Wiseman as Samuel is alternately Devil-child and a cute young kid.Grief: The Real Monster in The Babadook
December 19, 2014
What an alternately messed up, irresistibly catchy, reprehensible, utterly charming holiday classic.The Most WTF Covers of ‘Baby, It’s Cold Outside,’ Everyone’s Favorite Date-Rape Holiday Classic
November 19, 2014
Somehow this guy survives, alternately running into the nearby water and charging at the lions.Cumberbatch Impressions, Dad Sings ‘Blackbird’ to Dying Son, and More Viral Videos
The Daily Beast Video
November 16, 2014
Forbes magazine has alternately called Hanauer insane and ignorant.The Big, Long, 30-Year Conservative Lie
August 8, 2014
They named their new community Nea Levissi, or New Levissi, as their original town was alternately known.Turkey's Gorgeous Ghost Town
July 12, 2014
Historical Examples of alternately
Stir them gradually into the milk, alternately with the cocoa-nut and sugar.Directions for Cookery, in its Various Branches
In this capacity I was alternately farmer, rancher, cattleman.A Breath of Prairie and other stories
Mix in gradually the flour and sugar, alternately with the eggs, which should be well beaten.The Skilful Cook
Now, in retrospection, she was alternately sorry that she had said as much and that she had not said more.Nobody
Louis Joseph Vance
The fourth row you pearl three, knit one, and pearl six, alternately.The Ladies' Work-Table Book
- in an alternating sequence or position
- (often foll by with) to occur or cause to occur successively or by turnsday and night alternate
- (intr often foll by between) to swing repeatedly from one condition, action, etc, to anotherhe alternates between success and failure
- (tr) to interchange regularly or in succession
- (intr) (of an electric current, voltage, etc) to reverse direction or sign at regular intervals, usually sinusoidally, the instantaneous value varying continuously
- (intr often foll by for) theatre to understudy another actor or actress
- occurring by turnsalternate feelings of love and hate
- every other or second one of a serieshe came to work on alternate days
- being a second or further choice; alternativealternate director
- (of leaves, flowers, etc) arranged singly at different heights on either side of the stem
- (of parts of a flower) arranged opposite the spaces between other partsCompare opposite (def. 4)
- US and Canadian a person who substitutes for another in his absence; stand-in
Word Origin for alternate
1510s, from Latin alternatus "one after the other," past participle of alternare "to do first one thing then the other; exchange parts," from alternus "one after the other, alternate, in turns, reciprocal," from alter "the other" (see alter). Alternate means "by turns;" alternative means "offering a choice." Both imply two kinds or things.
1718, "that which alternates (with anything else)," from alternate (adj.). Meaning "a substitute" is first attested 1848.
- Arranged singly at intervals on a stem or twig. Elms, birches, oaks, cherry trees, and hickory trees have alternate leaves. Compare opposite.
- Arranged regularly between other parts, as stamens between petals on a flower.