to make different in some particular, as size, style, course, or the like; modify:
to alter a coat; to alter a will; to alter course.
to castrate or spay.
to change; become different or modified.
Contemporary Examples

He throws every fiber of his being into each performance, altering his posture, elocution, temperament, and more.
Oscars 2015: The Daily Beast’s Picks, From Scarlett Johansson to ‘Boyhood’ Marlow Stern January 5, 2015

Last year, Google reduced its tax burden by $3.1 billion by altering its tax practices.
15 Top Corporate Tax Dodgers The Daily Beast March 27, 2011

Both keep up the appearance of gaining ground, often omitting or altering facts.
Taliban And NATO War on Twitter Sam Schneider November 19, 2013

But Francis has also implied that his hands are tied when it comes to changing doctrine or altering church teachings.
The Pope vs. the Church on Family Values? Barbie Latza Nadeau October 5, 2014

In this case, it is the Obama administration that is taking the radical part and altering the rules of the game.
The Birth Control Culture War David Frum February 16, 2012

Historical Examples

He drew a long breath, for there was a heavy, rustling sound above, as if the man on the roof was altering his position.
To Win or to Die George Manville Fenn

The train of consequences which follows, is inferred by altering the predicate into ‘not many.’
Parmenides Plato

They tell me you’re altering your Will in favour of your son.
The Forsyte Saga, Complete John Galsworthy

But the law’s the law, and for my own part I’m not in favor of altering it.
Tristram of Blent Anthony Hope

The carpenter was for altering her, and for cutting adrift the old hulk alongside.
The Life of a Celebrated Buccaneer Richard Clynton

to make or become different in some respect; change
(transitive) (informal, mainly US) a euphemistic word for castrate, spay

late 14c., “to change (something),” from Old French alterer “change, alter,” from Medieval Latin alterare “to change,” from Latin alter “the other (of the two),” from PIE *al- “beyond” (see alias (adv.)) + comparative suffix -ter (cf. other). Intransitive sense “to become otherwise” first recorded 1580s. Related: Altered; altering.


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