Definition of alternative in English:

alternative

adjective

  • 1attributive (of one or more things) available as another possibility or choice.

    ‘the various alternative methods for resolving disputes’
    • ‘Can you talk about how and why it was humanism that triumphed over alternative possibilities?’
    • ‘They are being offered alternative seats as similar as possible to the ones they have at Maine Road.’
    • ‘It is perfectly possible that an alternative government would overturn a hunting ban.’
    • ‘An alternative surface level crossing is also available, so road crossing is unaffected.’
    • ‘In recent years several sites have been examined as a possible alternative home for the Abbey.’
    • ‘In fact the experience made me wish that I had taken an alternative form of transport.’
    • ‘The council wants children to be aware of alternative, greener methods of getting to school.’
    • ‘Walsh says the company will just have to be innovative in seeking alternative forms of finance.’
    • ‘Which of all the uneliminated alternative possibilities may not properly be ignored?’
    • ‘An alternative method is to use a blow torch which will soften the varnish or paint, allowing easy removal with a scraper.’
    • ‘Our lease expires next year and we need to find an alternative home as quickly as possible.’
    • ‘He even suggests that the argument has merit by moving onto the issue of possible alternative sources of funding.’
    • ‘Where such data are not available, there are alternative ways of securing suitable information.’
    • ‘Peanut flour is a cheap and quick alternative method for thickening dishes.’
    • ‘If it is not available, an alternative venue would have to be found or the hearing adjourned.’
    • ‘I mean they ought to be able to reflect on possible alternative views, and some do.’
    • ‘Occasionally, though, I do browse around for alternative flavours and new experiences.’
    • ‘Bosses have promised to find alternative jobs within the company for as many people as possible.’
    • ‘Organisers have also made sure there will be alternative traffic routes available.’
    • ‘We will be contacting them again when an alternative service is available.’
    different, other, another, second, possible, substitute, replacement
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    1. 1.1 (of two things) mutually exclusive.
      ‘the facts fit two alternative scenarios’
      • ‘The alternative scenario is not one that City fans will want to think too much about.’
      • ‘The book answers all these questions by analogy, with instances from the alternative America of the novel.’
      • ‘The only legal alternative, a fresh set of elections, would solve nothing.’
      • ‘So until the alternative route is available I expect to be able to use the existing roadway for access purposes.’
      • ‘It is in the public interest that they be both experienced and expert: the alternative is unacceptable.’
  • 2Relating to activities that depart from or challenge traditional norms.

    ‘an alternative lifestyle’
    • ‘Terror Trax was a haven for what we hoped would be the next phase of alternative music.’
    • ‘Both traditional doctors and alternative therapists work to the best of their ability in any given situation.’
    • ‘Here in the States, alternative media have become extremely compartmentalised.’
    • ‘Listening to this record momentarily makes one feel that all is well in alternative music.’
    • ‘They insisted it was the only venue for alternative music in this city of 850,000 people.’
    • ‘The music is mainstream alternative pop and rock music, with little or no variation.’
    • ‘I was living an alternative lifestyle before anyone had thought of the expression.’
    • ‘Look at some of the most experimental alternative music going around at the moment.’
    • ‘Coldplay were also winners, taking the alternative music album award for Parachutes.’
    • ‘Bizarrely, it completely omits any reference to alternative lifestyles or kinks of any kind.’
    • ‘Witchcraft has come out of the shadows and is entering British society as a viable alternative lifestyle.’
    • ‘Find the best alternative therapy for your lifestyle and health needs.’
    • ‘It used to sell books and pamphlets about alternative cultures and lifestyles.’
    • ‘Are you influenced by alternative music, is that something you have a passion for?’
    • ‘There are lots of alternative lifestyles in the area, as can be seen by the area's cafés and stores.’
    • ‘I think this is what appealed to our adolescent selves, as it appeals to a lot of fans of alternative music.’
    • ‘The band Hell is for Heroes has denounced it as ‘a great blow to alternative music’.’
    • ‘They've been known to hassle people who choose alternative lifestyles and dodge taxes.’
    • ‘She loves alternative music and watching all sorts of sports though she says she is a total loser at most of them.’
    • ‘An article such as this one marks a sad day in the realm of so-called alternative press.’
    unorthodox, unconventional, non-standard, unusual, uncommon, unwonted, out of the ordinary, radical, revolutionary, nonconformist, unconforming, irregular, offbeat, off-centre, avant-garde
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noun

  • One of two or more available possibilities.

    ‘audio cassettes are an interesting alternative to reading’
    ‘she had no alternative but to break the law’
    • ‘She is a constant reminder that an alternative was once possible, which might flower again.’
    • ‘We cannot say that alternatives have not been tried but it is possible that we have not tried hard enough.’
    • ‘Shouldn't we take this opportunity to review the situation and debate alternatives?’
    • ‘Each client is informed about what foods to avoid and advised about alternatives they can eat and drink.’
    • ‘It assumes that citizens are rational and aware of all possible alternatives.’
    • ‘This had been set up by left wing activists as an alternative to the mainstream, segregated colleges.’
    • ‘Our task is to ensure that there are real alternatives from which people may choose.’
    • ‘You are better off to have a number of alternatives available to you in case of an emergency.’
    • ‘It is not as if there is some ready alternative available to citizens carrying out official duties.’
    • ‘The lack of alternatives to an illegal action does not legitimise that action.’
    • ‘It will also be a great chance to discuss what sort of alternatives to capitalism are possible.’
    • ‘Teenagers at the meeting said they hung around on street corners as there were no alternatives for them.’
    • ‘Are there no alternatives that might provide better options for gay people?’
    • ‘There is no excuse for wearing real fur with so many humane alternatives now available.’
    • ‘In the light of the discontent on the back-benches, we have to have alternatives.’
    • ‘It's making me feel better just knowing that I have alternatives to the current situation.’
    • ‘The evening that it started, the local news ran a story on possible alternatives to driving.’
    • ‘Ministers claim that an adequate alternative is available for men and women who are cohabiting.’
    • ‘If you don't want to go the whole hog by designing and building your own house, there are alternatives.’
    • ‘The launch of Oven Chips offered a healthier and more convenient alternative to traditional chips.’
    option, choice, other possibility
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Usage

Some traditionalists maintain that you can only have a maximum of two alternatives, because the word alternative comes from Latin alter ‘other (of two)’) and that uses where there are more than two alternatives are wrong. Such uses are, however, normal in modern standard English. See also alternate

Origin

Mid 16th century (in the sense ‘alternating, alternate’): from French alternatif, -ive or medieval Latin alternativus, from Latin alternare ‘interchange’ (see alternate).

Pronunciation

alternative

/ɒlˈtəːnətɪv//ɔːlˈtəːnətɪv/