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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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British Dictionary definitions for quasialternating

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
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Word Origin and History for quasialternating

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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quasialternating 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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