9 Grammatical Pitfalls


[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 altering
  • altering the ecosystem in your garden isn't always an option.
  • In fact, he says, it may be impossible for humans or any other animal to bring a memory to mind without altering it in some way.
  • By altering the rate, on the contrary, the proportion between those two values is necessarily altered.
  • The nature of things has stamped upon corn a real value which cannot be altered by merely altering its money price.
  • Withers likes to form guitar chords that he can simply move up and down the neck without altering the position of his fingers.
  • altering and cherry-picking details is an easy, hollow game for a writer.
  • Even when he was altering the course of history, he did not cease to be enigmatic, unpredictable.
  • It is a college-altering moment, and during such moments it's good to take stock of the basics.
  • We stacked the deck against them, even altering their evaluations or losing their tenure and promotion records.
  • One or both partners often wind up altering their career plans for the team.
British Dictionary definitions for altering


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 altering



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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