Definition of alter in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈôltər/


1Change or cause to change in character or composition, typically in a comparatively small but significant way: [with object]: Eliot was persuaded to alter the passage nothing alters the fact that children are our responsibility [no object]: our outward appearance alters as we get older (as adjective altered) an altered state
More example sentences
  • The English ruling class was wiped out and the character of the nation altered forever.
  • Digitally alter all the alien characters so they have 2 heads because that would look so cool.
  • During the course of the show, he altered the character of two sculptures by revising the installation.
change, make changes to, make different, make alterations to, adjust, make adjustments to, adapt, amend, modify, revise, revamp, rework, redo, refine, vary, transform
informal tweak
technical permute
change, become different, undergo a change, undergo a sea change, adjust, adapt, transform, evolve
1.1 [with object] Make structural changes to (a building): plans to alter the dining hall
More example sentences
  • We applied, as the landowner on behalf of Southern, for the proper permissions to alter the existing depot building.
  • The structure of the home meant they could not alter the building to meet this regulation without becoming financially unviable.
  • Plans to alter a pub in the oldest area of Skipton have failed to find favour with local councillors.
1.2 [with object] Tailor (clothing) for a better fit or to conform to fashion: skirts with the hemlines altered a dozen different times
More example sentences
  • So I had to alter old clothing and eventually started making pillows out of that so I could sell them.
  • This clothing was then altered to become liturgical dress.
  • The alterations are very basic but should be enough to alter a jacket.
1.3 [with object] North American & Australian Castrate or spay (a domestic animal).
Example sentences
  • The humane society will alter kittens as young as eight weeks of age.



Pronunciation: /ˈôlt(ə)rəb(ə)l/
Example sentences
  • Free people have multiple and alterable identities.
  • Instead, the acoustics of musical space is, in itself, an alterable element of the representational system within which musical meanings are constructed.
  • When poverty started being seen not as inevitable, but as something alterable, being poor moved from the realm of bad luck to the realm of injustice.


Late Middle English: from Old French alterer, from late Latin alterare, from Latin alter 'other'.

  • If you alter something you change it to something else. The word comes via French from Latin alter ‘other’, also found in alternative (mid 16th century). It also lies behind altruism (mid 19th century) which is from Italian altrui ‘somebody else’, from Latin alteri huic ‘to this other’.

Words that rhyme with alter

altar, assaulter, defaulter, falter, Gibraltar, halter, Malta, palter, psalter, salter, vaulter, Walter

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: al·ter

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