Definition of alternant in US English:



  • An alternative form of a word or other linguistic unit; a variant.

    ‘one form occurs more than its alternants’
    • ‘The generalization from alternants to nonalternants is given particular attention.’
    • ‘The most common alternant is EAT, though it is not obligatory - indeed, the oldest example I have found so far, from 1882, uses DRINK SLEEP THINK, with no EAT.’
    • ‘Hence, the voiced alternants induced by Verner's Law may be expected in both subjunctive pret. singular and plural.’
    • ‘Metathesis occurs in the intensive possessor suffix which displays two alternants, [ilin] and [inl-].’
    • ‘All observed asymmetries between the two alternants are shown to fall out naturally from this and related structural distinctions.’


  • Alternating; changing from one to the other.

    • ‘A conjugated system of electrons is termed alternant if its atoms can be divided into two sets so that no atom of one set is directly linked to any other atom of the same set.’
    • ‘A simple rule is that all aromatic and conjugated hydrocarbons consisting of even membered rings and any kind of chain are alternant hydrocarbons.’
    • ‘The ones with even numbers of atoms are even alternant, with odd numbers, they are odd alternant.’


Mid 17th century: from Latin alternant- ‘doing things by turns’, from the verb alternare (see alternate).