I. verb [no obj.] alternate /ˈɔːltəneɪt, ˈɒltəneɪt /

1. occur in turn repeatedly

bouts of depression alternate with periods of elation
(as adj. alternating)
a season of alternating hot days and cool nights.
2. [with obj.] do or perform in turn repeatedly

some adults who wish to alternate work with education.
3. change repeatedly between two contrasting conditions

the government alternated between the Labour and Conservative parties.
II. adjective [ attrib.] alternate /ɔːlˈtəːnət, ɒlˈtəːnət /

1. every other; every second

she was asked to attend on alternate days.
2. (of two things) each following and succeeded by the other in a regular pattern

alternate bouts of intense labour and of idleness.
[Botany] (of leaves or shoots) placed alternately on the two sides of the stem.
(chiefly N. Amer.) another term for alternative:

a novel set in an alternate universe.
III. noun alternate /ɔːlˈtəːnət, ɒlˈtəːnət /

(N. Amer.) a person who acts as a deputy or substitute.

he shall be entitled to exercise the vote of the director for whom he is an alternate.
– origin early 16th cent. (earlier (late Middle English) as alternation): from Latin alternat- ‘done by turns’, from alternare, from alternus ‘every other’, from alter ‘other’. / usage: 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.

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