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 (ôl′tər-nāt′, ăl′-)
v. al·ter·nat·ed, al·ter·nat·ing, al·ter·nates
a. To occur in a successive manner: day alternating with night.
b. To act or proceed by turns: The students alternated at the computer.
2. To pass back and forth from one state, action, or place to another: alternated between happiness and depression.
3. Electricity To reverse direction at regular intervals in a circuit.
1. To do or execute by turns.
2. To cause to alternate: alternated light and dark squares to form a pattern.
adj. (-nĭt)
1. Happening or following in turns; succeeding each other continuously: alternate seasons of the year.
2. Designating or relating to every other one of a series: alternate lines.
3. Serving or used in place of another; substitute: an alternate plan. See Usage Note at alternative.
4. Botany
a. Arranged singly at each node, as leaves or buds on different sides of a stem.
b. Arranged regularly between other parts, as stamens between petals.
n. (-nĭt)
1. A person acting in the place of another; a substitute.
2. An alternative.

[Latin alternāre, alternāt-, from alternus, by turns, from alter, other; see al- in Indo-European roots.]

al′ter·nate·ly adv.


1. (often foll by with) to occur or cause to occur successively or by turns: day and night alternate.
2. (often foll by: between) to swing repeatedly from one condition, action, etc, to another: he alternates between success and failure.
3. (tr) to interchange regularly or in succession
4. (Electrical Engineering) (intr) (of an electric current, voltage, etc) to reverse direction or sign at regular intervals, usually sinusoidally, the instantaneous value varying continuously
5. (Theatre) theatre (often foll by: for) to understudy another actor or actress
6. occurring by turns: alternate feelings of love and hate.
7. every other or second one of a series: he came to work on alternate days.
8. being a second or further choice; alternative: alternate director.
9. (Botany) botany
a. (of leaves, flowers, etc) arranged singly at different heights on either side of the stem
b. (of parts of a flower) arranged opposite the spaces between other parts. Compare opposite4
US and Canadian a person who substitutes for another in his absence; stand-in
[C16: from Latin alternāre to do one thing and then another, from alternus one after the other, from alter other]


(v. ˈɔl tərˌneɪt, ˈæl-; adj., n. -nɪt)

v. -nat•ed, -nat•ing,
adj., n. v.i.
1. to interchange repeatedly and regularly with one another in time or place (usu. fol. by with): Day alternates with night.
2. to change back and forth between states, actions, etc.: He alternates between hope and despair.
3. to take turns: The children alternate in doing chores.
4. Elect. to reverse direction or sign periodically.
5. to perform or do in succession or one after another.
6. to interchange successively or regularly: to alternate hot and cold compresses.
7. interchanged repeatedly one for another: Winter and summer are alternate seasons.
8. reciprocal; mutual: alternate acts of kindness.
9. every second one of a series: Read only the alternate lines.
11. Bot.
a. placed singly at different heights on the axis, on each side in succession, or at definite angular distances from one another, as leaves on a stem.
b. opposite to the intervals between other parts: petals alternate with sepals.
12. a person authorized to take the place of another who is temporarily absent.
[1505–15; < Latin alternātus, past participle of alternāre to alternate, v. derivative of alternus by turns, derivative of alter other]
al′ter•nate•ly, adv.


1. 'alternate'

Alternate actions, events, or processes keep happening regularly after each other.

...the alternate contraction and relaxation of muscles.

If something happens on alternate days, it happens on one day, then does not happen on the next day, then happens again on the day after it, and so on. Things can also happen in alternate weeks, months, or years.

We saw each other on alternate Sunday nights.
The two courses are available in alternate years.
2. 'alternative'

You use alternative to describe something that can be used, had, or done instead of something else.

But still people try to find alternative explanations.
There is, however, an alternative approach.

Note that in American English, alternate is sometimes used with this meaning.

How would a clever researcher rule out this alternate explanation?

Alternative can also be a noun. An alternative to something is something else that you can have or do instead.

Food suppliers are working hard to provide organic alternatives to everyday foodstuffs.
A magistrate offered them a Domestic Education course as an alternative to prison.
There is no alternative to permanent storage.

You can also say that someone has two or more alternatives, meaning that they have two or more courses of action to choose from.

If a man is threatened with attack, he has five alternatives: he can fight, flee, hide, summon help, or try to appease his attacker.

Note that it used to be considered incorrect to talk about more than two alternatives.


Past participle: alternated
Gerund: alternating

I alternate
you alternate
he/she/it alternates
we alternate
you alternate
they alternate
I alternated
you alternated
he/she/it alternated
we alternated
you alternated
they alternated
Present Continuous
I am alternating
you are alternating
he/she/it is alternating
we are alternating
you are alternating
they are alternating
Present Perfect
I have alternated
you have alternated
he/she/it has alternated
we have alternated
you have alternated
they have alternated
Past Continuous
I was alternating
you were alternating
he/she/it was alternating
we were alternating
you were alternating
they were alternating
Past Perfect
I had alternated
you had alternated
he/she/it had alternated
we had alternated
you had alternated
they had alternated
I will alternate
you will alternate
he/she/it will alternate
we will alternate
you will alternate
they will alternate
Future Perfect
I will have alternated
you will have alternated
he/she/it will have alternated
we will have alternated
you will have alternated
they will have alternated
Future Continuous
I will be alternating
you will be alternating
he/she/it will be alternating
we will be alternating
you will be alternating
they will be alternating
Present Perfect Continuous
I have been alternating
you have been alternating
he/she/it has been alternating
we have been alternating
you have been alternating
they have been alternating
Future Perfect Continuous
I will have been alternating
you will have been alternating
he/she/it will have been alternating
we will have been alternating
you will have been alternating
they will have been alternating
Past Perfect Continuous
I had been alternating
you had been alternating
he/she/it had been alternating
we had been alternating
you had been alternating
they had been alternating
I would alternate
you would alternate
he/she/it would alternate
we would alternate
you would alternate
they would alternate
Past Conditional
I would have alternated
you would have alternated
he/she/it would have alternated
we would have alternated
you would have alternated
they would have alternated
ThesaurusAntonymsRelated WordsSynonymsLegend:
Noun1.alternate - someone who takes the place of another personalternate - someone who takes the place of another person
backup man, fill-in, reliever, stand-in, backup, substitute, relief - someone who takes the place of another (as when things get dangerous or difficult); "the star had a stand-in for dangerous scenes"; "we need extra employees for summer fill-ins"
Verb1.alternate - go back and forth; swing back and forth between two states or conditions
vary, alter, change - become different in some particular way, without permanently losing one's or its former characteristics or essence; "her mood changes in accordance with the weather"; "The supermarket's selection of vegetables varies according to the season"
2.alternate - exchange people temporarily to fulfill certain jobs and functionsalternate - exchange people temporarily to fulfill certain jobs and functions
exchange - hand over one and receive another, approximately equivalent; "exchange prisoners"; "exchange employees between branches of the company"
rotate - exchange on a regular basis; "We rotate the lead soprano every night"
3.alternate - be an understudy or alternate for a rolealternate - be an understudy or alternate for a role
memorise, memorize, con, learn - commit to memory; learn by heart; "Have you memorized your lines for the play yet?"
4.alternate - reverse (a direction, attitude, or course of action)alternate - reverse (a direction, attitude, or course of action)
change by reversal, reverse, turn - change to the contrary; "The trend was reversed"; "the tides turned against him"; "public opinion turned when it was revealed that the president had an affair with a White House intern"
5.alternate - do something in turnsalternate - do something in turns; "We take turns on the night shift"
spell - take turns working; "the workers spell every four hours"
act, move - perform an action, or work out or perform (an action); "think before you act"; "We must move quickly"; "The governor should act on the new energy bill"; "The nanny acted quickly by grabbing the toddler and covering him with a wet towel"
Adj.1.alternate - every second one of a seriesalternate - every second one of a series; "the cleaning lady comes on alternate Wednesdays"; "jam every other day"- the White Queen
cyclical, cyclic - recurring in cycles
2.alternate - serving or used in place of another; "an alternative plan"
secondary - being of second rank or importance or value; not direct or immediate; "the stone will be hauled to a secondary crusher"; "a secondary source"; "a secondary issue"; "secondary streams"
3.alternate - occurring by turnsalternate - occurring by turns; first one and then the other; "alternating feelings of love and hate"
cyclical, cyclic - recurring in cycles
4.alternate - of leaves and branches etcalternate - of leaves and branches etc; first on one side and then on the other in two ranks along an axis; not paired; "stems with alternate leaves"
phytology, botany - the branch of biology that studies plants
opposite, paired - of leaves etc; growing in pairs on either side of a stem; "opposite leaves"


1. interchange, change, alter, fluctuate, intersperse, take turns, oscillate, chop and change, follow one another, follow in turn Her gentle moods alternated with calmer states.
2. intersperse, interchange, exchange, swap, stagger, rotate Now you just alternate layers of that mixture and eggplant.
1. every other, every second The course is taught in alternate years.
2. alternating, interchanging, every other, rotating, every second, sequential They were streaked with alternate bands of colour.
3. substitute, alternative, other, different, replacement, complimentary alternate forms of medical treatment
1. (U.S.) substitute, reserve, deputy, relief, replacement, stand-by, makeshift In most jurisdictions, twelve jurors and two alternates are chosen.


To do, use, or occur in successive turns:
One that takes the place of another:
Informal: fill-in, pinch hitter, sub.
مُتَنَاوِبمُتَنَاوِب، مُتَعَاقِبيَتَعَاقَبيَتَنَاوَب
střídatstřídavýkaždý druhýob
hver andenskifteskiftevisvekslevekslende
minden másodikváltogat
annar hversem skiptist áskiptast á, hafa til skiptis
besikaitaliojantiskaitaliojimasiskaitaliotikaitaliotiskas antras
katrs otraismainīgsmainīt
bir…ara ilebiribirini izleyenkarşılıklınöbetleşe yapmaksıralı
luân phiên


A. [ɒlˈtɜːnɪt] ADJ
1. (= alternating) → alterno
alternate layers of cheese and potatoescapas alternas de queso y patatas
we had a week of alternate rain and sunshinetuvimos una semana en la que se alternaron el sol y las lluvias
let's read alternate linesvamos a leer cada uno un renglón
2. (= every second) on alternate dayscada dos días, un día sí y otro no
he lives alternate months in Brussels and Londonvive un mes en Bruselas y uno en Londres
to write on alternate linesescribir en renglones alternos
3. (Bot, Math) → alterno
4. (US) = alternative A
B. [ɒlˈtɜːnɪt] N (US) (Sport) (at conference) → suplente mf
C. [ˈɒltɜːneɪt] VIalternar
an annual cycle of drought alternating with floodsun ciclo anual de sequías alternando con inundaciones
the temperatures alternate between very hot and extremely coldlas temperaturas oscilan entre un calor y un frío intensos
he alternates between euphoria and depressionpasa de la euforia a la depresión y vice versa
they alternate between avoiding us and ignoring usunas veces nos evitan y otras nos ignoran
D. [ˈɒltɜːneɪt] VTalternar


(= alternating) [layers, colours] → alterné(e)
on alternate days → un jour sur deux
on alternate weeks → une semaine sur deux
to take alternate hot and cold baths → alterner les bains chauds et froids
(US) (= alternative, other) [route] → autre; [version] → autre; [method] → de rechange; [plans] → de rechange
[ˈɔːltərneɪt] vialterner
to alternate with → alterner avec
to alternate between A and B → passer successivement de A à B
[ˈɔːltərneɪt] vtfaire alterner
to alternate A with B, to alternate A and B → passer successivement de A à B, faire alterner A et B


I go there on alternate daysich gehe jeden zweiten Tag or alle zwei Tage hin; they do their shopping on alternate days (= every other day)sie machen ihre Einkäufe jeden zweiten Tag; (= taking turns)sie wechseln sich täglich mit dem Einkaufen ab; to go through alternate periods of happiness and despairabwechselnd Zeiten des Glücks und der Verzweiflung durchmachen; they put down alternate layers of brick and mortarsie schichteten (immer) abwechselnd Ziegel und Mörtel aufeinander
(= alternative)alternativ; alternate routeAusweichstrecke f
n (US) → Vertreter(in) m(f); (Sport) → Ersatzspieler(in) m(f)
vtabwechseln lassen; cropsim Wechsel anbauen; to alternate one thing with anotherzwischen einer Sache und einer anderen (ab)wechseln; the chairs were alternated with benchesStühle und Bänke waren abwechselnd aufgestellt
vi(sich) abwechseln; (Elec) → alternieren; to alternate between one thing and anotherzwischen einer Sache und einer anderen (ab)wechseln; the two actors alternated in the roledie beiden Schauspieler wechselten sich in der Rolle ab


[adj ɒlˈtɜːnɪt; vb ˈɒltəneɪt]
1. adj (alternating, layers) → alternato/a; (every other, days) → alterni/e pl, uno/a sì e uno/a no
on alternate days → ogni due giorni
alternate angles → angoli alterni
2. vi to alternate (with/between)alternarsi (a/fra), avvicendarsi (a/fra)
3. vt (crops) → alternare, avvicendare


(ˈoːltəneit) verb
to use, do etc by turns, repeatedly, one after the other. John alternates between teaching and studying; He tried to alternate red and yellow tulips along the path as he planted them.
(oːlˈtəːnət) adjective
1. coming, happening etc in turns, one after the other. The water came in alternate bursts of hot and cold.
2. every second (day, week etc). My friend and I take the children to school on alternate days.
alˈternately (-ˈtəːnət-) adverb
She felt alternately hot and cold.
alterˈnation noun


مُتَنَاوِب střídavý vekslende abwechselnd εναλλασσόμενος alterno vuoroittainen alterné naizmjeničan alternato 交互の 교대의 afwisselend vekslende naprzemienny alternado чередующийся omväxlande ซึ่งสลับกัน karşılıklı luân phiên 交替的


vt. alternar, turnar; alternating;
n. alteración.


adj alterno; — days días alternos; un día sí, un día no; vt, vi alternar
References in classic literature ?
The alternations of night and day grew slower and slower, and so did the passage of the sun across the sky, until they seemed to stretch through centuries.
In her actual state, with her surrounding atmosphere certainly very much reduced, her seas for the most part dried up, her insufficient supply of water restricted, vegetation, sudden alternations of cold and heat, her days and nights of 354 hours-- the moon does not seem habitable to me, nor does she seem propitious to animal development, nor sufficient for the wants of existence as we understand it.
When we moved off in this order, the natives struck up a musical recitative, which with various alternations, they continued until we arrived at the place of our destination.
I wound my way down slowly over the heath, enjoying the divine stillness of the scene, and admiring the soft alternations of light and shade as they followed each other over the broken ground on every side of me.
When Laurie first went to college, he fell in love about once a month, but these small flames were as brief as ardent, did no damage, and much amused Jo, who took great interest in the alternations of hop, despair, and resignation, which were confided to her in their weekly conferences.
The change of movement and position, the sight of the lamps twinkling to the rear, and the smell of damp and mould and rotten straw which clung about the vehicle, wrought in him strange alternations of lucidity and mortal giddiness.
No more of the girlish alternations of timidity and petulance, the adorable naivete, the reveries, the tears, the playfulness.
As usual, when she found herself in talk with Katharine, she began to feel rapid alternations of opinion about her, arrows of sensation striking strangely through the envelope of personality, which shelters us so conveniently from our fellows.
She had no intention of dying till Tom's visit was over, however, and as the time drew near, she went through such alternations of hope and fear, and lived in such a state of feverish excitement, that spirits and color came back, and she saw that the interesting pallor she had counted on would be an entire failure.
Undergoing these alternations of hope and misgiving, which no one, placed in a situation of ordinary trial, can fail to have experienced, Nicholas at length reached his poor room, where, no longer borne up by the excitement which had hitherto sustained him, but depressed by the revulsion of feeling it left behind, he threw himself on the bed, and turning his face to the wall, gave free vent to the emotions he had so long stifled.
Lyell in a striking passage has speculated, in language almost identical with mine, on the effects of great alternations of climate on geographical distribution.
With regard to Charles Hayter, she had delicacy which must be pained by any lightness of conduct in a well-meaning young woman, and a heart to sympathize in any of the sufferings it occasioned; but if Henrietta found herself mistaken in the nature of her feelings, the alternation could not be understood too soon.

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