Definition of alternative in English:

alternative

adjective

  • 1attributive (of one or more things) available as another possibility or choice.

    ‘the various alternative methods for resolving disputes’
    • ‘Can you talk about how and why it was humanism that triumphed over alternative possibilities?’
    • ‘In recent years several sites have been examined as a possible alternative home for the Abbey.’
    • ‘It is perfectly possible that an alternative government would overturn a hunting ban.’
    • ‘If it is not available, an alternative venue would have to be found or the hearing adjourned.’
    • ‘Organisers have also made sure there will be alternative traffic routes available.’
    • ‘He even suggests that the argument has merit by moving onto the issue of possible alternative sources of funding.’
    • ‘Where such data are not available, there are alternative ways of securing suitable information.’
    • ‘I mean they ought to be able to reflect on possible alternative views, and some do.’
    • ‘We will be contacting them again when an alternative service is available.’
    • ‘Which of all the uneliminated alternative possibilities may not properly be ignored?’
    • ‘An alternative method is to use a blow torch which will soften the varnish or paint, allowing easy removal with a scraper.’
    • ‘Peanut flour is a cheap and quick alternative method for thickening dishes.’
    • ‘The council wants children to be aware of alternative, greener methods of getting to school.’
    • ‘They are being offered alternative seats as similar as possible to the ones they have at Maine Road.’
    • ‘An alternative surface level crossing is also available, so road crossing is unaffected.’
    • ‘Bosses have promised to find alternative jobs within the company for as many people as possible.’
    • ‘Our lease expires next year and we need to find an alternative home as quickly as possible.’
    • ‘Occasionally, though, I do browse around for alternative flavours and new experiences.’
    • ‘Walsh says the company will just have to be innovative in seeking alternative forms of finance.’
    • ‘In fact the experience made me wish that I had taken an alternative form of transport.’
    different, other, another, second, possible, substitute, replacement
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    1. 1.1(of two things) mutually exclusive.
      ‘the facts fit two alternative scenarios’
      • ‘The book answers all these questions by analogy, with instances from the alternative America of the novel.’
      • ‘The alternative scenario is not one that City fans will want to think too much about.’
      • ‘The only legal alternative, a fresh set of elections, would solve nothing.’
      • ‘So until the alternative route is available I expect to be able to use the existing roadway for access purposes.’
      • ‘It is in the public interest that they be both experienced and expert: the alternative is unacceptable.’
  • 2Relating to activities that depart from or challenge traditional norms.

    ‘an alternative lifestyle’
    • ‘Look at some of the most experimental alternative music going around at the moment.’
    • ‘Both traditional doctors and alternative therapists work to the best of their ability in any given situation.’
    • ‘Bizarrely, it completely omits any reference to alternative lifestyles or kinks of any kind.’
    • ‘They've been known to hassle people who choose alternative lifestyles and dodge taxes.’
    • ‘The band Hell is for Heroes has denounced it as ‘a great blow to alternative music’.’
    • ‘I was living an alternative lifestyle before anyone had thought of the expression.’
    • ‘Witchcraft has come out of the shadows and is entering British society as a viable alternative lifestyle.’
    • ‘The music is mainstream alternative pop and rock music, with little or no variation.’
    • ‘Are you influenced by alternative music, is that something you have a passion for?’
    • ‘There are lots of alternative lifestyles in the area, as can be seen by the area's cafés and stores.’
    • ‘Coldplay were also winners, taking the alternative music album award for Parachutes.’
    • ‘I think this is what appealed to our adolescent selves, as it appeals to a lot of fans of alternative music.’
    • ‘She loves alternative music and watching all sorts of sports though she says she is a total loser at most of them.’
    • ‘Find the best alternative therapy for your lifestyle and health needs.’
    • ‘Terror Trax was a haven for what we hoped would be the next phase of alternative music.’
    • ‘They insisted it was the only venue for alternative music in this city of 850,000 people.’
    • ‘It used to sell books and pamphlets about alternative cultures and lifestyles.’
    • ‘An article such as this one marks a sad day in the realm of so-called alternative press.’
    • ‘Listening to this record momentarily makes one feel that all is well in alternative music.’
    • ‘Here in the States, alternative media have become extremely compartmentalised.’
    unorthodox, unconventional, non-standard, unusual, uncommon, unwonted, out of the ordinary, radical, revolutionary, nonconformist, unconforming, irregular, offbeat, off-centre, avant-garde
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noun

  • One of two or more available possibilities.

    ‘audiobooks are an interesting alternative to reading’
    ‘she had no alternative but to break the law’
    • ‘It assumes that citizens are rational and aware of all possible alternatives.’
    • ‘The evening that it started, the local news ran a story on possible alternatives to driving.’
    • ‘There is no excuse for wearing real fur with so many humane alternatives now available.’
    • ‘You are better off to have a number of alternatives available to you in case of an emergency.’
    • ‘It will also be a great chance to discuss what sort of alternatives to capitalism are possible.’
    • ‘We cannot say that alternatives have not been tried but it is possible that we have not tried hard enough.’
    • ‘Are there no alternatives that might provide better options for gay people?’
    • ‘It's making me feel better just knowing that I have alternatives to the current situation.’
    • ‘Each client is informed about what foods to avoid and advised about alternatives they can eat and drink.’
    • ‘Teenagers at the meeting said they hung around on street corners as there were no alternatives for them.’
    • ‘If you don't want to go the whole hog by designing and building your own house, there are alternatives.’
    • ‘Shouldn't we take this opportunity to review the situation and debate alternatives?’
    • ‘Our task is to ensure that there are real alternatives from which people may choose.’
    • ‘In the light of the discontent on the back-benches, we have to have alternatives.’
    • ‘The lack of alternatives to an illegal action does not legitimise that action.’
    • ‘She is a constant reminder that an alternative was once possible, which might flower again.’
    • ‘Ministers claim that an adequate alternative is available for men and women who are cohabiting.’
    • ‘It is not as if there is some ready alternative available to citizens carrying out official duties.’
    • ‘This had been set up by left wing activists as an alternative to the mainstream, segregated colleges.’
    • ‘The launch of Oven Chips offered a healthier and more convenient alternative to traditional chips.’
    option, choice, other possibility
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Usage

Some traditionalists maintain that you can only have a maximum of two alternatives, because the word alternative comes from Latin alter ‘other (of two)’) and that uses where there are more than two alternatives are wrong. Such uses are, however, normal in modern standard English. See also
alternate

Origin

Mid 16th century (in the sense ‘alternating, alternate’): from French alternatif, -ive or medieval Latin alternativus, from Latin alternare ‘interchange’ (see alternate).

Pronunciation

alternative

/ɔːlˈtəːnətɪv/ /ɒlˈtəːnətɪv/