verb (used without object), al·ter·nat·ed, al·ter·nat·ing.
verb (used with object), al·ter·nat·ed, al·ter·nat·ing.
- 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.
- either of two actors who take turns playing the same role.
- an understudy.
Origin of alternate
- (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)
noun (ˈɔːltənɪt, ɔːlˈtɜːnɪt)
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.