a possibility of choice, esp between two things, courses of action, etc
either of such choices we took the alternative of walking
presenting a choice, esp between two possibilities only
(of two things) mutually exclusive
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
1580s, "offering one or the other of two," from M.L. alternativus, from L. alternatus, pp. of alternare (see alternate). Sense of "the other of two which may be chosen" is recorded from 1838. Adj. use, "purporting to be a superior choice to what is in general use" was current by 1970 (earliest ref. is to the media); e.g. alternative energy (1975).