- 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
Examples from the Web for alternating
She added in the high-pitched, over-enunciated voice, like she was alternating between sucking on helium and a bong.SNL’s Kim Kardashian Konundrum: Why Nasim Pedrad’s Exit Hurts So Much
September 26, 2014
They have also been baffling, alternating between high hope and disappointment.Progressive-palooza: On Obama, Occupy, and Moral Monday
July 5, 2014
With alternating chapters, the novel takes us on a frenetic journey through the perspectives of these unlikely apocalyptos.In a New Novel, Apathetic Teenagers Usher in the Apocalypse
June 9, 2014
In alternating chapters, the two narrators of the novel describe their lives with Isaac, from two different periods in time.This Week’s Hot Reads: March 3, 2014
March 3, 2014
Complete three sets of 10 to 12 reps on each side, alternating legs, moving forward with a step in between each kick.5 Exercises to Get Ski and Snowboard Ready
January 2, 2014
The sun rose and set, alternating with the staring moon and stars.
The circuit-breaker worked and the alternating current did the rest.Pirates of the Gorm
All the passengers were herded there, with Miko and Moa alternating on guard.
Find out whether the current in your laboratory is direct or alternating.Common Science
Carleton W. Washburne
It is pleasant to hear the rush, and the calm, of tide race, alternating.From Edinburgh to India & Burmah
William G. Burn Murdoch
- (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 and History for alternating
1550s, present participle adjective from alternate (v.). Alternating current is recorded from 1839.
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.