June 06, 2011
- alter (verb)
- What does it mean?
- : to change partly but usually not completely
- How do you use it?
- My sister's wedding is in a week, and I still need to get my bridesmaid's dress altered!
- Are you a word wiz?
Which sentence below uses our word "alter" correctly?If you chose C, you're right! Answers A and D should use the word "altar," which is a homophone of "alter." ("Altar" means "a raised place on which sacrifices are offered" or "a platform or table used as a center of worship"). But what about Answer B? It was a trick: our word is "alter," but "alter ego" is a different, though related, word. And unlike today's Buzzword, it's not a verb. Both the "alters" in question come from the Latin word "alter," which means "other." "Alter ego," an English word that refers to a trusted representative or to another side of a personality, was borrowed directly from Latin, where it literally means "the other I." The English verb "alter" is traced back to the Latin "alter" through the Latin verb "alterare," which means "to make different."