a choice limited to one of two or more possibilities, as of things, propositions, or courses of action, the selection of which precludes any other possibility:
You have the alternative of riding or walking.
one of the things, propositions, or courses of action that can be chosen:
The alternative to riding is walking.
a possible or remaining course or choice:
There was no alternative but to walk.
affording a choice of two or more things, propositions, or courses of action.
(of two things, propositions, or courses) mutually exclusive so that if one is chosen the other must be rejected:
The alternative possibilities are neutrality and war.
employing or following nontraditional or unconventional ideas, methods, etc.; existing outside the establishment:
an alternative newspaper; alternative lifestyles.
Logic. (of a proposition) asserting two or more choices, at least one of which is true.
Contemporary Examples

The closing lecture also presents questions that Chomsky never answers—mainly one of alternatives.
Noam Chomsky—Infuriating and Necessary David Masciotra September 27, 2014

If any such “alternatives” are by definition unacceptable to any of the parties, then they’re not serious ideas.
Beware “Creative Alternatives” Hussein Ibish May 16, 2012

But the alternatives to war were incoherent under an American administration that really did not put much faith in diplomacy.
Gamechanger: Inside the Historic Iran Nuclear Deal Christopher Dickey November 23, 2013

To these Russian nose-thumbings, one finger salutes, and social media bullyings, we do have alternatives.
Why Does the USA Depend on Russian Rockets to Get Us Into Space? P. J. O’Rourke June 21, 2014

“Online dating is, at its core, a litany of alternatives,” Slater writes.
The New Rules of Online Dating Lizzie Crocker, Abby Haglage February 13, 2013

Historical Examples

This left the local organisers both in London and the country with two alternatives.
Human Nature In Politics Graham Wallas

The domain of alternatives constitutes the civilization of illiteracy.
The Civilization of Illiteracy Mihai Nadin

If all these alternatives are lacking there is the electric flash lamp working with the dry battery.
Practical Cinematography and Its Applications Frederick Arthur Ambrose Talbot

So it’s no good, and all the alternatives just fa’ to pieces.
Simon J. Storer Clouston

He had done no more than to give the driver his directions; and now that he had arrived, he had the choice of two alternatives.
The Place of Honeymoons Harold MacGrath

a possibility of choice, esp between two things, courses of action, etc
either of such choices: we took the alternative of walking
presenting a choice, esp between two possibilities only
(of two things) mutually exclusive
denoting a lifestyle, culture, art form, etc, regarded by its adherents as preferable to that of contemporary society because it is less conventional, materialistic, or institutionalized, and, often, more in harmony with nature
(logic) another word for disjunctive (sense 3)

1580s, “offering one or the other of two,” from Medieval Latin alternativus, from Latin alternatus, past participle of alternare (see alternate (v.)). Meaning “purporting to be a superior choice to what is in general use” was current by 1970 (earliest reference is to the media); e.g. alternative energy (1975). Related: Alternatively.

1620s, in rhetoric, from Medieval Latin alternativus (see alternative (adj.)). Of courses of action, from 1814. Of objects, etc., “the other of two which may be chosen,” by 1838.


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