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alternate

[v. awl-ter-neyt, al-; adj., n. awl-ter-nit, al-] /v. ˈɔl tərˌneɪt, ˈæl-; adj., n. ˈɔl tər nɪt, ˈæl-/
verb (used without object), alternated, alternating.
1.
to interchange repeatedly and regularly with one another in time or place; rotate (usually followed by with):
Day alternates with night.
2.
to change back and forth between conditions, states, actions, etc.:
He alternates between hope and despair.
3.
to take turns:
My sister and I alternated in doing the dishes.
4.
Electricity. to reverse direction or sign periodically.
5.
Linguistics. to occur as a variant in alternation with another form.
verb (used with object), alternated, alternating.
6.
to perform or do in succession or one after another:
to alternate comedy acts; to alternate jogging and walking.
7.
to interchange successively or regularly:
to alternate hot and cold compresses.
adjective
8.
being in a constant state of succession or rotation; interchanged repeatedly one for another:
Winter and summer are alternate seasons.
9.
reciprocal; mutual:
alternate acts of kindness.
10.
every second one of a series:
Read only the alternate lines.
11.
constituting an alternative:
The alternate route is more scenic.
12.
alternative (defs 4, 6).
13.
Botany.
  1. placed singly at different heights on the axis, on each side in succession, or at definite angular distances from one another, as leaves.
  2. opposite to the intervals between other organs:
    petals alternate with sepals.
noun
14.
a person authorized to fill the position, exercise the duties, etc., of another who is temporarily absent; substitute.
15.
Theater.
  1. either of two actors who take turns playing the same role.
  2. an understudy.
Origin
1505-1515
1505-15; < Latin alternātus (past participle of alternāre). See altern, -ate1
Related forms
alternately, adverb
alternateness, noun
alternatingly, adverb
nonalternating, adjective
quasi-alternating, adjective
quasi-alternatingly, adverb
unalternated, adjective
unalternating, adjective
Can be confused
alternate, alternative.
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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Examples from the web for alternate
  • Again if you have an alternate method of showing falsification for a hypothesis as related to climate change let me know.
  • On that last afternoon with my grandfather, he took me to an alternate reality-alternate, but not made up.
  • In the future, vehicles will be able to communicate with each other, helping cars to find alternate routes and cut traffic.
  • It brought about the use of peat and coal as alternate sources of energy.
  • Try these alternate preparations that have nothing to do with pickling or borscht.
  • If you're lucky, you're far enough away from the problem that you can take an alternate route or use public transportation.
  • But the college did try spinning off different programs and establishing alternate campuses.
  • Nukes are here to stay and provide much the best answer to alternate energy dilemmas.
  • Hatchlings remain in the nest for up to a month, and the parents alternate foraging and brooding duties.
  • Picture a gamer, someone who spends countless hours immersed in one of those online role-playing alternate realities.
British Dictionary definitions for alternate

alternate

verb (ˈɔːltəˌneɪt)
1.
(often foll by with) to occur or cause to occur successively or by turns: day and night alternate
2.
(intransitive) often foll by between. to swing repeatedly from one condition, action, etc, to another: he alternates between success and failure
3.
(transitive) to interchange regularly or in succession
4.
(intransitive) (of an electric current, voltage, etc) to reverse direction or sign at regular intervals, usually sinusoidally, the instantaneous value varying continuously
5.
(theatre) (intransitive) often foll by for. to understudy another actor or actress
adjective (ɔːlˈtɜːnɪt)
6.
occurring by turns: alternate feelings of love and hate
7.
every other or second one of a series: he came to work on alternate days
8.
being a second or further choice; alternative: alternate director
9.
(botany)
  1. (of leaves, flowers, etc) arranged singly at different heights on either side of the stem
  2. (of parts of a flower) arranged opposite the spaces between other parts Compare opposite (sense 4)
noun (ˈɔːltənɪt; ɔːlˈtɜːnɪt)
10.
(US & Canadian) a person who substitutes for another in his absence; stand-in
Word Origin
C16: from Latin alternāre to do one thing and then another, from alternus one after the other, from 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 alternate
adj.

1510s, from Latin alternatus "one after the other," past participle of alternare "to do first one thing then the other; exchange parts," from alternus "one after the other, alternate, in turns, reciprocal," from alter "the other" (see alter). Alternate means "by turns;" alternative means "offering a choice." Both imply two kinds or things.

v.

1590s, from Latin alternatus, past participle of alternare (see alternate (adj.)). Replaced Middle English alternen "to vary, alternate" (early 15c.). Related: Alternated; alternating.

n.

1718, "that which alternates (with anything else)," from alternate (adj.). Meaning "a substitute" is first attested 1848.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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alternate in Science
alternate
  (ôl'tər-nĭt)   
  1. Arranged singly at intervals on a stem or twig. Elms, birches, oaks, cherry trees, and hickory trees have alternate leaves. Compare opposite.

  2. Arranged regularly between other parts, as stamens between petals on a flower.


The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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