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[awl-ter] /ˈɔl tər/
verb (used with object)
to make different in some particular, as size, style, course, or the like; modify:
to alter a coat; to alter a will; to alter course.
to castrate or spay.
verb (used without object)
to change; become different or modified.
Origin of alter
1350-1400; Middle English < Old French alterer < Late Latin alterāre to change, worsen, derivative of Latin alter other
Related forms
alterer, noun
half-altered, adjective
prealter, verb (used with object)
realter, verb
unaltering, adjective
well-altered, adjective
Can be confused
altar, alter.
1. See adjust, change. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for altered
  • We humans have changed that to a limited extent, but it does not seem to have altered the stronger link to solar activity.
  • Memories were made or altered, he proposed, when structures near the synapse changed.
  • The industry maintains that foods produced from genetically altered crops are harmless.
  • It might be altered before it is formally put before the trustees.
  • The cats are not transgenic animals-their genes have not been altered to make them less of an allergy risk.
  • Neurologists say perceptions can be altered by rewiring the neural networks in the brain.
  • Its altered state, though, keeps it in the here and now.
  • Ellison altered the grade by cutting and filling in places to create horizontal terraces and extend gardening space.
  • But humans weren't the only creatures whose fortunes were forever altered.
  • When energy regimes converge with communications revolutions, human consciousness is altered.
British Dictionary definitions for altered


to make or become different in some respect; change
(transitive) (informal, mainly US) a euphemistic word for castrate, spay
Derived Forms
alterable, adjective
alterably, adverb
alterability, noun
Word Origin
C14: from Old French alterer, from Medieval Latin alterāre to change, from Latin alter other
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for altered



late 14c., "to change (something)," from Old French alterer "change, alter," from Medieval Latin alterare "to change," from Latin alter "the other (of the two)," from PIE *al- "beyond" (see alias (adv.)) + comparative suffix -ter (cf. other). Intransitive sense "to become otherwise" first recorded 1580s. Related: Altered; altering.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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