American English

Definition of alternative noun from the Oxford Advanced American Dictionary



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 a thing that you can choose to do or have out of two or more possibilities You can be paid in cash weekly or by check monthly; those are the two alternatives. We had no alternative but to fire Gibson. There is a vegetarian alternative on the menu every day. Thesaurusoptionchoice alternative possibilityThese are all words for something that you choose to do in a particular situation.option something that you can choose to have or do; the freedom to choose what you do:We are currently studying all the options available. He was given one month's imprisonment without the option of a fine. Option is also the word used in computing for one of the choices you can make when using a computer program:Choose the “Cut” option from the Edit menu.choice the freedom to choose what you do; something that you can choose to have or do:If I had the choice, I would stop working tomorrow. She has a number of choices available to her.alternative something that you can choose to have or do out of two or more possibilities:You can be paid in cash weekly or by check monthly: Those are the two alternatives.option, choice, or alternative?Choice is slightly less formal than option, and alternative is slightly more formal. Choice is most often used for “the freedom to choose,” although you can sometimes also use option (but not usually alternative):If I had the choice/option, I would… If I had the alternative, I would… parental choice in education parental option/alternative in education. Things that you can choose are options, choices, or alternatives. However, alternative is more frequently used to talk about choosing between two things rather than several.possibility one of the different things that you can do in a particular situation:We need to explore a wide range of possibilities. The possibilities are endless. Possibility can be used in a similar way to option, choice, and alternative, but the emphasis here is less on the need to make a choice, and more on what is available.Patterns with/without the option/choice/possibility >of>something a(n) good/acceptable/reasonable/possible option/choice/alternative the only option/choice/alternative/possibility >open to>somebody to have a/an/the option/choice >of doing something> to have no option/choice/alternative >but to>do something a number/range of options/choices/alternatives/possibilities
See the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary entry: alternative