Definition of alternative in US English:

alternative

adjective

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

    ‘the various alternative methods for resolving disputes’
    ‘the alternative definition of democracy as popular power’
    • ‘I mean they ought to be able to reflect on possible alternative views, and some do.’
    • ‘In recent years several sites have been examined as a possible alternative home for the Abbey.’
    • ‘They are being offered alternative seats as similar as possible to the ones they have at Maine Road.’
    • ‘An alternative method is to use a blow torch which will soften the varnish or paint, allowing easy removal with a scraper.’
    • ‘The council wants children to be aware of alternative, greener methods of getting to school.’
    • ‘An alternative surface level crossing is also available, so road crossing is unaffected.’
    • ‘Walsh says the company will just have to be innovative in seeking alternative forms of finance.’
    • ‘Can you talk about how and why it was humanism that triumphed over alternative possibilities?’
    • ‘Organisers have also made sure there will be alternative traffic routes available.’
    • ‘It is perfectly possible that an alternative government would overturn a hunting ban.’
    • ‘Peanut flour is a cheap and quick alternative method for thickening dishes.’
    • ‘Occasionally, though, I do browse around for alternative flavours and new experiences.’
    • ‘Which of all the uneliminated alternative possibilities may not properly be ignored?’
    • ‘In fact the experience made me wish that I had taken an alternative form of transport.’
    • ‘Bosses have promised to find alternative jobs within the company for as many people as possible.’
    • ‘He even suggests that the argument has merit by moving onto the issue of possible alternative sources of funding.’
    • ‘If it is not available, an alternative venue would have to be found or the hearing adjourned.’
    • ‘We will be contacting them again when an alternative service is available.’
    • ‘Our lease expires next year and we need to find an alternative home as quickly as possible.’
    • ‘Where such data are not available, there are alternative ways of securing suitable information.’
    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’
      • ‘So until the alternative route is available I expect to be able to use the existing roadway for access purposes.’
      • ‘The only legal alternative, a fresh set of elections, would solve nothing.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘It is in the public interest that they be both experienced and expert: the alternative is unacceptable.’
    2. 1.2 Relating to behavior that is considered unconventional and is often seen as a challenge to traditional norms.
      ‘an alternative lifestyle’
      ‘they have one foot in alternative music and the other in rock’
      • ‘She loves alternative music and watching all sorts of sports though she says she is a total loser at most of them.’
      • ‘I was living an alternative lifestyle before anyone had thought of the expression.’
      • ‘They've been known to hassle people who choose alternative lifestyles and dodge taxes.’
      • ‘An article such as this one marks a sad day in the realm of so-called alternative press.’
      • ‘Find the best alternative therapy for your lifestyle and health needs.’
      • ‘Bizarrely, it completely omits any reference to alternative lifestyles or kinks of any kind.’
      • ‘Terror Trax was a haven for what we hoped would be the next phase of alternative music.’
      • ‘Witchcraft has come out of the shadows and is entering British society as a viable alternative lifestyle.’
      • ‘I think this is what appealed to our adolescent selves, as it appeals to a lot of fans of alternative music.’
      • ‘There are lots of alternative lifestyles in the area, as can be seen by the area's cafés and stores.’
      • ‘The band Hell is for Heroes has denounced it as ‘a great blow to alternative music’.’
      • ‘Both traditional doctors and alternative therapists work to the best of their ability in any given situation.’
      • ‘They insisted it was the only venue for alternative music in this city of 850,000 people.’
      • ‘Coldplay were also winners, taking the alternative music album award for Parachutes.’
      • ‘The music is mainstream alternative pop and rock music, with little or no variation.’
      • ‘Look at some of the most experimental alternative music going around at the moment.’
      • ‘It used to sell books and pamphlets about alternative cultures and lifestyles.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Are you influenced by alternative music, is that something you have a passion for?’
      unorthodox, unconventional, non-standard, unusual, uncommon, unwonted, out of the ordinary, radical, revolutionary, nonconformist, unconforming, irregular, offbeat, off-centre, avant-garde
      View synonyms

noun

  • One of two or more available possibilities.

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

Some traditionalists maintain, from an etymological standpoint, that you can have only two alternatives (from the Latin alter ‘other (of two); the other’) and that uses of more than two alternatives are erroneous. Such uses are, however, normal in modern standard English Alternate can be a verb, noun, or adjective, while alternative can be a noun or adjective. In both American and British English, the adjective alternate means ‘every other’ (there will be a dance on alternate Saturdays) and the adjective alternative means ‘available as another choice’ (an alternative route; alternative medicine; alternative energy sources). In American usage, however, alternate can also be used to mean ‘available as another choice’: an alternate plan called for construction to begin immediately rather than waiting for spring. Likewise, a book club may offer an ‘alternate selection’ as an alternative to the main selection.
Alternate can be a verb, noun, or adjective, while alternative can be a noun or adjective. In both American and British English, the adjective alternate means ‘every other’ (there will be a dance on alternate Saturdays) and the adjective alternative means ‘available as another choice’ (an alternative route; alternative medicine; alternative energy sources). In American usage, however, alternate can also be used to mean ‘available as another choice’: an alternate plan called for construction to begin immediately rather than waiting for spring. Likewise, a book club may offer an ‘alternate selection’ as an alternative to the main selection. Some traditionalists maintain, from an etymological standpoint, that you can have only two alternatives (from the Latin alter ‘other (of two); the other’) and that uses of more than two alternatives are erroneous. Such uses are, however, normal in modern standard English

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

/ôlˈtərnədiv//ɔlˈtərnədɪv/