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AL-TER-A'TION, n. [L. alteratio.]

The act of making different, or of varying in some particular; an altering or partial change; also the change made, or the loss or acquisition of qualities not essential to the form or nature of a thing. Thus a cold substance suffers an alteration when it becomes hot.


Causing alteration; having the power to alter.


A medicine which gradually induces a change in the habit or constitution, and restores healthy functions. This word is more generally used than alterant.

AL'TER-CATE, v.i. [L. altercor, alterco, from alter, another.]

To contend in words; to dispute with zeal, heat, or anger; to wrangle.

AL-TER-CA'TION, n. [L. altercatio.]

Warm contention in words; dispute carried on with heat or anger; controversy; wrangle.

AL'TERN, a. [L. alternus, of alter, another.]

  1. Acting by turns; one succeeding another; alternate, which is the word generally used.
  2. In crystalography, exhibiting, on two parts, an upper and a lower part, faces which alternate among themselves, but which, when the two parts are compared, correspond with each other. – Cleaveland. Altern-base, in trigonometry, is a term used in distinction from the true base. Thus in oblique triangles, the true base is the sum of the sides, and then the difference of the sides is the altern-base; or the true base is the difference of the sides, and then the sum of the sides is the altern-base. – Encyc.


Performance or actions by turns. [Little used.]


Alternative. [Little used.]


By turns. [Little used.]

AL-TERN'ATE, a. [L. alternatus.]

  1. Being by turns; one following the other in succession of time or place; hence reciprocal. And bid alternate passions fall and rise. – Pope.
  2. In botany, branches and leaves are alternate, when they rise higher on opposite sides alternately, come out singly, and follow in gradual order. – Encyc. Lee. Alternate alligation. [See Alligation.] Alternate angles, in geometry, the internal angles made by a line cutting two parallels, and lying on opposite sides of the cutting line; the one below the first parallel, and the other above the second. – Johnson. In heraldry, the first and fourth quarters, and the second and third, are usually of the same nature, and are called alternate quarters.


That which happens by turns with something else; vicissitude. – Prior.


  1. To happen or to act by turns; as, the flood and ebb tides alternate with each other.
  2. To follow reciprocally in place. Different species alternating with each other. Kirwan.

AL'TERN-ATE, v.t. [L. alterno. See Alter. With the accent on the second syllable, the participle alternating can hardly be pronounced.]

To perform by turns, or in succession; to cause to succeed by turns; to change one thing for another reciprocally; as, God alternates good and evil.


In reciprocal succession; by turns, so that each is succeeded by that which it succeeds; as night follows day and day follows night.


The quality of being alternate, or of following in succession.


Performing or following by turns.


  1. The reciprocal succession of things, in time or place; the act of following and being followed, in succession; as, we observe the alternation of day and night, cold and heat, summer and winter.
  2. The different changes or alterations of orders, in numbers. Thus, if it is required to know how many changes can be rung on six bells, multiply the numbers 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, continually into one another, and the last product is the number required. This is called permutation.
  3. The answer of the congregation speaking alternately with the minister.
  4. Alternate performance, in the choral sense. – Mason.

AL-TERN'A-TIVE, a. [Fr. alternatif.]

Offering a choice of two things.


That which may chosen or omitted; a choice of two things, so that if one is taken, the other must be left. Thus, when two things offer a choice of one only, the two things are called alternatives. In strictness, then, the word cannot be applied to more than two things, and when one thing only is offered for choice, it is said there is no alternative. Between these alternatives there is no middle ground. – Cranch.


In the manner of alternatives, in a manner that admits the choice of one out of two things.


The quality or state of being alternative.


Succession by turns; alternation.

AL-THE'A, n. [Gr. αλθαια from αλθω, or αλθαινω, to heal.]

In botany, a genus of polyandrian monadelphs, of several species; one species is called, in English, marsh-mallow. The common species has a perennial root, and an annual stalk, rising four or five feet. It abounds with mucilage, and is used as an emollient.

AL-THOUGH, v. [altho'; obs. verb, or used only in the imperative. all and though; from Sax. thah, or theah; Ir. daighim, to give; Ger. doch; D. dog; Sw. doch, and endoch; Dan. dog, though. See Though.]

Grant all this; be it so; allow all; suppose that; admit all that; as, "although the fig-tree shall not blossom." Hab. iii. That is, grant, admit, or suppose what follows–"the fig-tree shall not blossom." It is a transitive verb, and admits after it the definitive that–although that the fig-tree shall not blossom; but this use of the verb has been long obsolete. The word may be defined by notwithstanding, non obstante; as not opposing may be equivalent to admitting or supposing.

AL-TIL'O-QUENCE, n. [L. altus, high, and loquor, loquens, speaking.]

Lofty speech; pompous language.