Definition of alterity in English:



  • [mass noun] The state of being other or different; otherness.

    ‘the problem of alterity occurs also in homogeneous societies’
    • ‘In the novel, set forty years later, Armenian whiteness is defined in contradistinction to the racial alterity of Native Americans, another group that has suffered genocide.’
    • ‘The concluding chapter draws together the diverse strands of alterity explored to that point while examining alterity in history.’
    • ‘If readers are to be enriched and informed by alterity, they must be willing actively to imagine an Other completely different - in time, space, and perception.’
    • ‘McMaster understands alterity as a dialectic of self and otherness.’
    • ‘In my terminology otherness or alterity is definitional, and specifically polar (the two terms of a polar opposition are jointly exhaustive and mutually exclusive).’
    • ‘According to Derrida, Levinas underestimates not only the elusiveness of alterity but the degree of respect for alterity already present in earlier thinkers.’
    • ‘The dialectical view, built on the inevitable production of alterity and the necessarily differential structure of language, entails predictable consequences.’
    • ‘It was in 1492, of course, that Columbus discovered the New World, which soon thereafter became a colonial space virtually defined by its alterity, the fact that it was not the Old World.’
    • ‘I also wonder whether there is a term in psychoanalytic theory for this perception of our body's radical alterity.’
    • ‘Here, the author dips into complex arguments about sex, gender, reason, and alterity that I still find impenetrable and bordering on the metaphysical.’
    • ‘Indeed, I sometimes put the matter this way: the clearest way to domesticate the otherness of the other is to talk about alterity.’
    • ‘In the inherited and still influential constructions of Africa, the continent designates difference and alterity.’
    • ‘Whether or not it is applied to a given foreigner has more to do with that foreigner's ability to reduce marks of alterity than his or her physical characteristics, per se.’
    • ‘However I do accept that just using language which is ‘neutral’ does not eliminate alterity.’
    • ‘Then, the essay explains that the public sphere of early print is founded on alterity, on Otherness, on the non-English and even the anti-English.’
    • ‘As Self and Other become potentially interchangeable, the voluntary adoption of alterity becomes the most significant, and authoritative, act of autonomy possible to the human subject.’
    • ‘Within many anti-colonial and civil rights struggles, those in control of discursive practices have often silenced voices of alterity in order to unify a people in the struggle against colonial, hegemonic orders.’
    • ‘Finally, how are the absorbing questions of alterity and alienation treated by a postcolonial or displaced subject in an autobiographical novel written from such an elsewhere?’
    • ‘But it is perhaps in that space of radical alterity evoked by poetic images that we can enter into a productive dialogue with the subjects of these exhibitions.’
    • ‘Likewise, contemporary comparatist discussions of cultural alterity may blur rather than sharpen historical distinctions and our sense of the otherness of the past.’


Mid 17th century: from late Latin alteritas, from alter other.