When you're facing a fork in the road, you have two possibilities, or alternatives. You could take the left fork and see where it leads, or you could choose the path that goes to the right.

Whenever there is an alternative, it involves a choice. A wealthy student has the choice of going to a public school, or the alternative, a private school. Alternative can also refer to a different way of doing things, outside the norm. You might say that a hermit who lives in remote a cave with a pet turtle is living an alternative lifestyle.

Definitions of alternative
  1. noun
    one of a number of things from which only one can be chosen
    “there no other alternative
    synonyms: choice, option
    see moresee less
    show 10 types...
    hide 10 types...
    the more conspicuous of two alternatives or cases or sides
    druthers, preference
    the right or chance to choose
    default, default option
    an option that is selected automatically unless an alternative is specified
    opening, possibility, possible action
    a possible alternative
    impossibility, impossible action
    an alternative that is not available
    Hobson's choice
    the choice of taking what is offered or nothing at all
    soft option
    an easier alternative
    the particular preference that you have
    something that can be done
    something that cannot be done
    type of:
    deciding, decision making
    the cognitive process of reaching a decision
  2. adjective
    necessitating a choice between mutually exclusive possibilities
    alternative possibilities were neutrality or war”
    serving or tending to divide or separate
  3. adjective
    serving or used in place of another
    “an alternative plan”
    synonyms: alternate, substitute
    being of second rank or importance or value; not direct or immediate
  4. adjective
    pertaining to unconventional choices
    “an alternative life style”
    not conventional or conformist
Commonly confused words

alternate / alternative

To alternate is to take turns; an alternative is an option. When you wear your checkered blazer, the black and white squares alternate. But if you're not feeling like an '80s guitar hero, the green plaid jacket is a nice alternative.

Continue reading...

Word Family

Test prep from the experts

Boost your test score with programs developed by’s experts.

  • Proven methods: Learn faster, remember longer with our scientific approach.
  • Personalized plan: We customize your experience to maximize your learning.
  • Strategic studying: Focus on the words that are most crucial for success.


  • Number of words: 500+
  • Duration: 8 weeks or less
  • Time: 1 hour / week


  • Number of words: 500+
  • Duration: 10 weeks or less
  • Time: 1 hour / week


  • Number of words: 700+
  • Duration: 10 weeks
  • Time: 1 hour / week