- 2chiefly North Americananother term for alternative.a novel set in an alternate universe
early 16th century (earlier (late Middle English) as alternation): from Latin alternat- 'done by turns', from alternare, from alternus 'every other', from alter 'other'
In both British and American English the adjective alternate means ‘every other or every second’, as in they meet on alternate Sundays, or ‘(of two things) each following and succeeded by the other in a regular pattern’, as in alternate layers of potato and sauce. Alternative means ‘available as another possibility or choice’ (an alternative route; some European countries follow an alternative approach). In American usage, however, alternate can also be used to mean ‘available as another choice’: an alternate plan called for construction to begin immediately rather than waiting for spring. This American use of alternate is still regarded as incorrect by many people in Britain.