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 (ôl-tûr′nə-tĭv, ăl-)
a. One of a number of possible choices or courses of action: There are plenty of alternatives to conventional advertising.
b. A choice or course of action that is mutually exclusive with another: The alternative to staying in that dead-end job is to quit. See Synonyms at choice.
2. A situation presenting a choice between two mutually exclusive possibilities: people facing the alternative of selling their homes or going bankrupt.
a. Being one of a number of possible choices or courses of action: The highway is closed. Seek alternative routes.
b. Being one of two mutually exclusive choices or courses of action: How effective is the alternative treatment?
c. Substitute or other: Several members of the audience provided alternative views on the topic.
a. Existing outside traditional or established institutions or systems: an alternative lifestyle; alternative energy.
b. Espousing or reflecting values that are different from those of the establishment or mainstream: an alternative newspaper.

al·ter′na·tive·ly adv.
Usage Note: A traditional view holds that alternative should be used only when the number of choices involved is exactly two. This reasoning is based on the word's historical relation to Latin alter, "the other of two." Even in the 1960s, some 58 percent of the Usage Panel did not favor this edict, and now that majority is overwhelming. In 2009, fully 87 percent of the Panel accepted the sentence There are plenty of alternatives to straightforward advertising, and 85 percent accepted There are many new antibiotic alternatives to penicillin. Constructions like a number of alternatives must now be considered standard. · As an adjective, alternative can mean "allowing or requiring a choice between two or more things," as in We wrote an alternative statement in case the first was rejected by the board. It may also refer to a variant or substitute in cases where no choice is involved, as in We will do our best to secure alternative employment for employees displaced by the closing of the factory. In our 2009 survey, 87 percent of the Usage Panel accepted this sentence. Interestingly, only 52 percent accepted alternate when used in the same sentence.
American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright © 2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.


1. a possibility of choice, esp between two things, courses of action, etc
2. either of such choices: we took the alternative of walking.
3. presenting a choice, esp between two possibilities only
4. (of two things) mutually exclusive
5. (Sociology) denoting a lifestyle, culture, art form, etc, regarded by its adherents as preferable to that of contemporary society because it is less conventional, materialistic, or institutionalized, and, often, more in harmony with nature
6. (Logic) logic another word for disjunctive3
alˈternatively adv
alˈternativeness n
Collins English Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged, 12th Edition 2014 © HarperCollins Publishers 1991, 1994, 1998, 2000, 2003, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2011, 2014


(ɔlˈtɜr nə tɪv, æl-)

1. a choice limited to one of two or more possibilities: the alternative of riding or walking.
2. one of these choices: The alternative to riding is walking.
3. a possible or remaining choice: no alternative but to walk.
4. affording a choice between two or more things.
5. (of two choices) mutually exclusive so that if one is chosen the other must be rejected.
6. employing nontraditional or unconventional ideas, methods, etc.: an alternative newspaper.
al•ter′na•tive•ly, adv.
syn: See choice.
Random House Kernerman Webster's College Dictionary, © 2010 K Dictionaries Ltd. Copyright 2005, 1997, 1991 by Random House, Inc. All rights reserved.


Dictionary of Military and Associated Terms. US Department of Defense 2005.


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.

Collins COBUILD English Usage © HarperCollins Publishers 1992, 2004, 2011, 2012
ThesaurusAntonymsRelated WordsSynonymsLegend:
Noun1.alternative - one of a number of things from which only one can be chosenalternative - one of a number of things from which only one can be chosen; "what option did I have?"; "there no other alternative"; "my only choice is to refuse"
deciding, decision making - the cognitive process of reaching a decision; "a good executive must be good at decision making"
obverse - the more conspicuous of two alternatives or cases or sides; "the obverse of this issue"
druthers, preference - the right or chance to choose; "given my druthers, I'd eat cake"
default option, default - an option that is selected automatically unless an alternative is specified
possible action, possibility, opening - a possible alternative; "bankruptcy is always a possibility"
impossible action, impossibility - an alternative that is not available
Hobson's choice - the choice of taking what is offered or nothing at all
soft option - an easier alternative; "the instructor took the soft option and gave the boy a passing grade"
Adj.1.alternative - 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"
2.alternative - necessitating a choice between mutually exclusive possibilities; "alternative possibilities were neutrality or war"
disjunctive - serving or tending to divide or separate
3.alternative - pertaining to unconventional choicesalternative - pertaining to unconventional choices; "an alternative life style"
unconventional - not conventional or conformist; "unconventional life styles"
Based on WordNet 3.0, Farlex clipart collection. © 2003-2012 Princeton University, Farlex Inc.


1. substitute, choice, other (of two), option, preference, recourse New treatments may provide an alternative to painkillers.
1. different, other, substitute, alternate There were alternative methods of transport available.
2. unconventional, unusual, alternate (U.S.), abnormal, irregular, off-the-wall (slang), unorthodox, heterodox, uncustomary Grunge percolated in the alternative music scene of Seattle.
Collins Thesaurus of the English Language – Complete and Unabridged 2nd Edition. 2002 © HarperCollins Publishers 1995, 2002


The power or right of choosing:
The American Heritage® Roget's Thesaurus. Copyright © 2013, 2014 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
بَدِيلخَيار بَيْن إثْنَين
alternativaalternativníjiná možnostjiný
alternatívválasztási lehetõség
sem um er aî velja, annarvalkostur
양자 택일양자 택일인
alternatyvaalternatyvusarbakitas pasirinkimas
alternatívnyiná možnosť
alternativendruga možnostdrugačenizbira
khácphương án thay thế


1. [plan, route] → alternativo, otro
the only alternative systemel único sistema alternativo
do you have an alternative candidate?¿tienes otro candidato?
2. (= non-traditional) → alternativo
the alternative societyla sociedad alternativa
B. Nalternativa f
there are several alternativeshay varias alternativas or posibilidades
what alternatives are there?¿qué alternativas or opciones hay?
I have no alternativeno tengo más remedio, no me queda otra alternativa or opción
there is no alternativeno hay otro remedio, no queda otra (LAm)
you have no alternative but to gono tienes más alternativa or opción or remedio que ir
fruit is a healthy alternative to chocolatela fruta es una opción más sana que el chocolate
C. CPD alternative comedian Nhumorista mf alternativo/a
alternative comedy Nhumorismo m alternativo
alternative energy Nenergías fpl alternativas
alternative medicine Nmedicina f alternativa
alternative school N (US) colegio para niños que requieren una atención diferenciada
Collins Spanish Dictionary - Complete and Unabridged 8th Edition 2005 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1971, 1988 © HarperCollins Publishers 1992, 1993, 1996, 1997, 2000, 2003, 2005


(= other) [method, approach, way, plans, arrangements] → autre; [source] → autre; [route, date, flight] → de remplacement; [career, employment] → de remplacement
They made alternative plans → Ils ont pris d'autres dispositions.
Alternative methods of travel are available → Il existe d'autres façons de voyager.
an alternative solution → une solution de rechange
an alternative explanation → une autre explication
(= unconventional, not mainstream) [energy, technology] → alternatif/ive; [society] → alternatif/ive; [lifestyle] → différent(e), non conventionnel(le); [comedy, comedian] → nouveau(nouvelle)
alternative forms of transport → de nouvelles formes de transport alternative medicine
(= choice) → alternative f (= other possibility) → autre possibilité f
There are several alternatives → Il y a plusieurs possibilités.
We have several alternatives → Nous avons plusieurs possibilités.
What's the alternative? → Quelle est l'alternative ?
to have no alternative → ne pas avoir le choix
You have no alternative → Tu n'a pas le choix.
There is no alternative → Il n'y a pas le choix.
there is no alternative but to ... → il n'y a pas d'autre solution que de ...
to have no alternative but to ... → ne pas avoir d'autre solution que de ...
an alternative to sth (= other choice) → une solution alternative à qch
Fruit is a healthy alternative to chocolate → Les fruits constituent une solution alternative saine au chocolat.
Collins English/French Electronic Resource. © HarperCollins Publishers 2005


adjAlternativ-; there is no alternative wayes gibt keine Alternative; alternative routeAusweichstrecke f; alternative societyAlternativgesellschaft f; for him, other than London, the only possible alternative place to live is …außer London kommt für ihn als Wohnort nur … infrage or in Frage, … ist für ihn als Wohnort die einzige Alternative zu London
nAlternative f; I had no alternative (but …)ich hatte keine andere Wahl or keine Alternative (als …)
Collins German Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged 7th Edition 2005. © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1980 © HarperCollins Publishers 1991, 1997, 1999, 2004, 2005, 2007


1. adj (solutions) → alternativo/a, altro/a; (medicine, energy) → alternativo/a
2. n (choice) → alternativa
you have no alternative but to go → non hai altra alternativa che andare
there are several alternatives → ci sono diverse alternative or possibilità
there is no alternative → non c'è altra alternativa or scelta
Collins Italian Dictionary 1st Edition © HarperCollins Publishers 1995


(oːlˈtəːnətiv) adjective
offering a choice of a second possibility. An alternative arrangement can be made if my plans don't suit you.
a choice between two (or sometimes more) things or possibilities. You leave me no alternative but to dismiss you; I don't like fish. Is there an alternative on the menu?
alˈternatively adverb
Kernerman English Multilingual Dictionary © 2006-2013 K Dictionaries Ltd.


بَدِيل alternativa, alternativní alternativ alternativ, Alternative εναλλακτική λύση, εναλλακτικός alternativa, alternativo vaihtoehto, vaihtoehtoinen alternatif, alternative alternativa, alternativan alternativa, alternativo 代わりの, 選択肢 양자 택일, 양자 택일인 alternatief alternativ alternatywa, alternatywny alternativa, alternativo альтернатива, альтернативный alternativ ทางเลือก, ที่มีตัวเลือก alternatif, seçenek khác, phương án thay thế 二中择一, 二中择一的
Multilingual Translator © HarperCollins Publishers 2009


n. alternativa, opción.
English-Spanish Medical Dictionary © Farlex 2012


n alternativa
English-Spanish/Spanish-English Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2006 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in classic literature ?
First alternative: To announce my compliance with her proposal; to exchange addresses with her; and then to keep my eye privately on all her future movements.
They had been accustomed to each other's appearance, and to the gradual operation of hunger and hardship upon their frames, but the change in the looks of these men, since last they parted, was a type of the famine and desolation of the land; and they now began to indulge the horrible presentiment that they would all starve together, or be reduced to the direful alternative of casting lots!
Johnson vows that if I persist in the connection, he will settle in the country for the rest of his life, and you know it is impossible to submit to such an extremity while any other alternative remains.
May there not be the alternative, I said, that we may persuade you to let us go?
Had the convention taken the first method of adopting the second article of Confederation, it is evident that the new Congress would be continually exposed, as their predecessors have been, to the alternative of construing the term "EXPRESSLY" with so much rigor, as to disarm the government of all real authority whatever, or with so much latitude as to destroy altogether the force of the restriction.
There was accordingly no alternative but to place at the disposal of Agnes a comfortable room on the second floor.
The supposition that each confederacy into which the States would be likely to be divided would require a government not less comprehensive than the one proposed, will be strengthened by another supposition, more probable than that which presents us with three confederacies as the alternative to a general Union.
Is there no alternative? May the infinitely wise God direct you.
I have been shutting myself up and resting," said Will, feeling himself a sneak, but seeing no alternative to this evasion.
She never even changed the hour of her errands or sought an alternative route.
Nor was there other alternative. Only the sailors could bring away any belongings, for the fire, which had not yet reached the forecastle, had consumed all in the vicinity of the cabin which the explosion had not destroyed.
He might have struck the King, but then there would have been left to him no alternative save death by his own hand; for a king may not fight with a lesser mortal, and he who strikes a king may not live--the king's honor must be satisfied.

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