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 Dictionary entry overview: What does alter mean? 

ALTER (verb)
  The verb ALTER has 5 senses:

1. cause to change; make different; cause a transformation
2. make or become different in some particular way, without permanently losing one's or its former characteristics or essence
3. make an alteration to
4. insert words into texts, often falsifying it thereby
5. remove the ovaries of

  Familiarity information: ALTER used as a verb is common.

 Dictionary entry details 

ALTER (verb)

Sense 1alter [BACK TO TOP]


Cause to change; make different; cause a transformation

Classified under:

Verbs of size, temperature change, intensifying, etc.


alter; change; modify

Context examples:

The advent of the automobile may have altered the growth pattern of the city / The discussion has changed my thinking about the issue


change (undergo a change; become different in essence; losing one's or its original nature)

Troponyms (each of the following is one way to "alter"):

dynamise; dynamize (make (a drug) effective)

dynamise; dynamize (make more dynamic)

rarefy; sublimate; subtilize (make more subtle or refined)

volatilise; volatilize (make volatile; cause to pass off in a vapor)

uniformise; uniformize (make uniform)

symmetrise; symmetrize (make symmetric)

eternalise; eternalize; eternise; eternize; immortalise; immortalize (make famous forever)

denature (make (alcohol) unfit for drinking without impairing usefulness for other purposes)

denature (modify (as a native protein) especially by heat, acid, alkali, or ultraviolet radiation so that all of the original properties are removed or diminished)

denature (add nonfissionable material to (fissionable material) so as to make unsuitable for use in an atomic bomb)

clear (make clear, bright, light, or translucent)

animate; animise; animize (give lifelike qualities to)

immaterialise; immaterialize; unsubstantialise; unsubstantialize (render immaterial or incorporeal)

expand; extend (expand the influence of)

set aside; suspend (make inoperative or stop)

muddy (make turbid)

transform (subject to a mathematical transformation)

elevate; lift; raise (raise in rank or condition)

harshen (make harsh or harsher)

dinge (make dingy)

demonise; demonize (make into a demon)

devilise; devilize; diabolise; diabolize (turn into a devil or make devilish)

etherealize; etherialise (make ethereal)

sanitise; sanitize (make less offensive or more acceptable by removing objectionable features)

verbify (make into a verb)

shift (move from one setting or context to another)

make (cause to be enjoyable or pleasurable)

deflate (produce deflation in)

inflate (cause prices to rise by increasing the available currency or credit)

reflate (economics: raise demand, expand the money supply, or raise prices, after a period of deflation)

digitalise; digitalize; digitise; digitize (put into digital form, as for use in a computer)

gelatinise; gelatinize (convert into gelatinous form or jelly)

recombine (cause genetic recombination)

effeminize; erreminise; feminise; feminize; womanize (to give a (more) feminine, effeminate, or womanly quality or appearance to)

masculinise; masculinize; virilise; virilize (produce virilism in or cause to assume masculine characteristics, as through a hormonal imbalance or hormone therapy)

masculinize (give a masculine appearance or character to)

think (bring into a given condition by mental preoccupation)

shorten (make short or shorter)

sputter (cause to undergo a process in which atoms are removed)

draw (bring or lead someone to a certain action or condition)

make (change from one form into another)

dope (add impurities to (a semiconductor) in order to produce or modify its properties)

prostrate (render helpless or defenseless)

excite (produce a magnetic field in)

energise; energize; excite (raise to a higher energy level)

shake (bring to a specified condition by or as if by shaking)

outmode (make unfashionable, outdated, or obsolete)

spice; spice up (make more interesting or flavorful)

disharmonize; dissonate (cause to sound harsh and unpleasant)

saponify (convert into soap by hydrolizing an ester into an acid and alcohol as a result of treating it with an alkali)

demulsify (cause to demulsify)

charge (cause formation of a net electrical charge in or on)

sweeten (make sweeter, more pleasant, or more agreeable)

iodinate (cause to combine with iodine)

ionate (add ions to)

archaise; archaize (give an archaic appearance of character to)

inform (give character or essence to)

officialise; officialize (make official)

occidentalise; occidentalize; westernise; westernize (make western in character)

orientalise; orientalize (make oriental in character)

acetylate; acetylise; acetylize (introduce an acetyl group into (a chemical compound))

tender; tenderise; tenderize (make tender or more tender as by marinating, pounding, or applying a tenderizer)

de-emphasise; de-emphasize; destress (reduce the emphasis)

decarboxylate (remove a carboxyl group from (a chemical compound))

nazify (cause or force to adopt Nazism or a Nazi character)

fecundate; fertilise; fertilize (make fertile or productive)

clarify (make clear by removing impurities or solids, as by heating)

embrittle (make brittle)

mark (make or leave a mark on)

barb (provide with barbs)

nick (divide or reset the tail muscles of)

disable; disenable; incapacitate (make unable to perform a certain action)

enable (render capable or able for some task)

achromatise; achromatize (remove color from)

collimate; parallel (make or place parallel to something)

camp (give an artificially banal or sexual quality to)

romanticise; romanticize (make romantic in style)

rusticate (lend a rustic character to)

sauce (add zest or flavor to, make more interesting)

shallow; shoal (make shallow)

tense (increase the tension on)

steepen (make steeper)

scramble (make unintelligible)

unscramble (make intelligible)

unsex (remove the qualities typical of one's sex)

vitrify (change into glass or a glass-like substance by applying heat)

proof (activate by mixing with water and sometimes sugar or milk)

radicalize (make more radical in social or political outlook)

classicise; classicize (make classic or classical)

conventionalise; conventionalize (make conventional or adapt to conventions)

decimalise; decimalize (change from fractions to decimals)

dizzy (make dizzy or giddy)

envenom; poison (add poison to)

exteriorise; exteriorize; externalise; externalize; objectify (make external or objective, or give reality to)

glamorise; glamorize; glamourise; glamourize (make glamorous and attractive)

introvert (turn inside)

laicise; laicize (reduce to lay status)

politicise; politicize (give a political character to)

pall (cause to become flat)

militarise; militarize (lend a military character to (a country), as by building up a military force)

bring (cause to come into a particular state or condition)

amalgamate; commix; mingle; mix; unify (to bring or combine together or with something else)

charge (fill or load to capacity)

put (cause to be in a certain state; cause to be in a certain relation)

clean; make clean (make clean by removing dirt, filth, or unwanted substances from)

begrime; bemire; colly; dirty; grime; soil (make soiled, filthy, or dirty)

depress; lower (cause to drop or sink)

deform (make formless)

break; break up (destroy the completeness of a set of related items)

alter (make an alteration to)

straighten; straighten out (make straight)

string (provide with strings)

break down; crush (make ineffective)

fat; fatten; fatten out; fatten up; fill out; flesh out; plump; plump out (make fat or plump)

disturb; touch (tamper with)

dull (make dull in appearance)

blunt; dull (make dull or blunt)

sharpen (make sharp or sharper)

coarsen (make or become coarse or coarser)

loosen (make less dense)

loosen; undo; untie (cause to become loose)

barb (provide with barbs)

adorn; beautify; decorate; embellish; grace; ornament (make more attractive by adding ornament, colour, etc.)

humanise; humanize (make more humane)

humble (cause to be unpretentious)

liberalise; liberalize (make liberal or more liberal, of laws and rules)

compensate; correct; redress; right (make reparations or amends for)

democratise; democratize (introduce democratic reforms; of nations)

neutralize (make politically neutral and thus inoffensive)

corrupt; debase; debauch; demoralise; demoralize; deprave; misdirect; pervert; profane; subvert; vitiate (corrupt morally or by intemperance or sensuality)

loosen; relax (make less severe or strict)

unify; unite (bring together for a common purpose or action or ideology or in a shared situation)

flocculate (cause to become a fluffy or lumpy aggregate)

turn (cause to change or turn into something different;assume new characteristics)

make possible (make accessible)

reestablish; reinstate; restore (bring back into original existence, use, function, or position)

add; bestow; bring; contribute; impart; lend (bestow a quality on)

alien; alienate; disaffect; estrange (arouse hostility or indifference in where there had formerly been love, affection, or friendliness)

right (put in or restore to an upright position)

desensitise; desensitize (cause not to be sensitive)

deodorise; deodorize; deodourise (eliminate the odor from)

develop (make visible by means of chemical solutions)

blur (to make less distinct or clear)

blind (make blind by putting the eyes out)

change intensity (increase or decrease in intensity)

change taste (alter the flavor of)

capture (bring about the capture of an elementary particle or celestial body and causing it enter a new orbit)

cohere (cause to form a united, orderly, and aesthetically consistent whole)

mince; moderate; soften (make less severe or harsh)

sexualise; sexualize (make sexual, endow with sex, attribute sex to)

sensitise; sensitize (make sensitive to a drug or allergen)

depolarise; depolarize (eliminate the polarization of)

intensify (make the chemically affected part of (a negative) denser or more opaque in order produce a stronger contrast between light and dark)

isomerise; isomerize (cause to change into an isomer)

legitimate (make (an illegitimate child) legitimate; declare the legitimacy of (someone))

evaporate; vaporise (cause to change into a vapor)

industrialise; industrialize (organize the production of into an industry)

opacify (make opaque)

opsonize (make (cells) more susceptible to the action of phagocytes)

militarise; militarize (adopt for military use)

sensitise; sensitize (make (a material) sensitive to light, often of a particular colour, by coating it with a photographic emulsion)

circularize (make circular)

schematise; schematize (give conventional form to)

patent (make open to sight or notice)

constitutionalise; constitutionalize (incorporate into a constitution, make constitutional)

rationalise; rationalize (remove irrational quantities from)

plasticise; plasticize (make plastic, as by the addition of a plasticizer)

rarefy (lessen the density or solidity of)

paganise; paganize (make pagan in character)

incandesce (cause to become incandescent or glow)

deaminate; deaminize (remove the amino radical (usually by hydrolysis) from an amino compound; to perform deamination)

angulate (make or become angular)

nationalise; nationalize (make national in character or scope)

recommend (make attractive or acceptable)

sentimentalise; sentimentalize (make (someone or something) sentimental or imbue with sentimental qualities)

professionalise; professionalize (make professional or give a professional character to)

smut (make obscene)

still (make motionless)

weaponize (make into or use as a weapon or a potential weapon)

eroticize; sex up (give erotic or sexy character to)

piggyback (bring into alignment with)

blur; confuse; obnubilate; obscure (make unclear, indistinct, or blurred)

confuse (make unclear or incomprehensible)

moderate; tame; tone down (make less strong or intense; soften)

obfuscate (make obscure or unclear)

supple (make pliant and flexible)

vulgarise; vulgarize (debase and make vulgar)

solemnise; solemnize (make solemn and grave)

territorialise; territorialize (place on a territorial basis)

transaminate (change (an amino group) by transferring it from one compound to another)

glorify; spiritualize; transfigure (elevate or idealize, in allusion to Christ's transfiguration)

unsanctify (remove the sanctification from or make unsanctified)

vesiculate (cause to become vesicular or full of air cells)

visualise; visualize (make visible)

variegate (change the appearance of, especially by marking with different colors)

ventilate (furnish with an opening to allow air to circulate or gas to escape)

vivify (make more striking or animated)

synchronise; synchronize (make (motion picture sound) exactly simultaneous with the action)

chasten; subdue; tame (correct by punishment or discipline)

age (make older)

mature; ripen (cause to ripen or develop fully)

antiquate; antique (give an antique appearance to)

antiquate (make obsolete or old-fashioned)

develop; make grow (cause to grow and differentiate in ways conforming to its natural development)

soften (make soft or softer)

damage (inflict damage upon)

ossify (cause to become hard and bony)

acerbate (make sour or bitter)

stabilise; stabilize (make stable and keep from fluctuating or put into an equilibrium)

merge; unify; unite (join or combine)

oxidate; oxidise; oxidize (add oxygen to or combine with oxygen)

chasten; moderate; temper (restrain or temper)

ameliorate; amend; better; improve; meliorate (to make better)

aggravate; exacerbate; exasperate; worsen (make worse)

wet (cause to become wet)

dry; dry out (remove the moisture from and make dry)

lubricate (make slippery or smooth through the application of a lubricant)

beef up; fortify; strengthen (make strong or stronger)

fortify; lace; spike (add alcohol to (beverages))

weaken (lessen the strength of)

blunt (make less sharp)

destabilise; destabilize (make unstable)

sensibilise; sensibilize; sensify; sensitise; sensitize (make sensitive or aware)

desensitise; desensitize (make insensitive)

widen (make wider)

dehydrogenate (remove hydrogen from)

hydrogenate (combine or treat with or expose to hydrogen; add hydrogen to the molecule of (an unsaturated organic compound))

oxygenise; oxygenize (change (a compound) by increasing the proportion of the electronegative part; or change (an element or ion) from a lower to a higher positive valence: remove one or more electrons from (an atom, ion, or molecule))

darken (make dark or darker)

brighten; lighten; lighten up (make lighter or brighter)

blear; blur (make dim or indistinct)

bedim; obscure; overcloud (make obscure or unclear)

blot out; hide; obliterate; obscure; veil (make undecipherable or imperceptible by obscuring or concealing)

cook (transform by heating)

domesticate; domesticise; domesticize; reclaim; tame (overcome the wildness of; make docile and tractable)

disqualify; indispose; unfit (make unfit or unsuitable)

accustom; habituate (make psychologically or physically used (to something))

disarray; disorder (bring disorder to)

discolor (cause to lose or change color)

color; color in; colorise; colorize; colour; colour in; colourise; colourize (add color to)

stain (produce or leave stains)

hue (take on color or become colored)

uglify (make ugly)

untune (cause to be out of tune)

adjust; correct; set (alter or regulate so as to achieve accuracy or conform to a standard)

set (put into a certain state; cause to be in a certain state)

slenderise; slenderize (make slender or appear to be slender)

cut; edit; edit out (cut and assemble the components of)

arouse; awaken; rouse; wake; wake up; waken (cause to become awake or conscious)

counterchange; interchange; transpose (cause to change places)

vascularise; vascularize (make vascular)

decrepitate (to roast or calcine so as to cause to crackle or until crackling stops)

suburbanise; suburbanize (make suburban in character)

overturn; revolutionise; revolutionize (change radically)

etiolate (bleach and alter the natural development of (a green plant) by excluding sunlight)

barbarise; barbarize (make crude or savage in behavior or speech)

alkalinise; alkalinize (make (a substance) alkaline)

mythicise; mythicize; mythologise; mythologize (make into a myth)

allegorise; allegorize (make into an allegory)

get; make (give certain properties to something)

arterialise; arterialize (change venous blood into arterial blood)

cause to sleep (make fall asleep)

affect (act physically on; have an effect upon)

freshen; refresh; refreshen (make fresh again)

fecundate; fertilise; fertilize; inseminate (introduce semen into (a female))

indispose (cause to feel unwell)

cry (bring into a particular state by crying)

etiolate (make pale or sickly)

animalise; animalize; brutalise; brutalize (make brutal, unfeeling, or inhuman)

convert (change the nature, purpose, or function of something)

opalise; opalize (make opalescent)

demythologise; demythologize (remove the mythical element from (writings))

bring; land (bring into a different state)

coarsen (make less subtle or refined)

commute; convert; exchange (exchange a penalty for a less severe one)

vitalise; vitalize (give life to)

clear; unclutter (rid of obstructions)

activate (make active or more active)

activate (make (substances) radioactive)

activate; aerate (aerate (sewage) so as to favor the growth of organisms that decompose organic matter)

activate (make more adsorptive)

deactivate; inactivate (make inactive)

blunt; deaden (make less lively, intense, or vigorous; impair in vigor, force, activity, or sensation)

reconstruct; redo; remodel (do over, as of (part of) a house)

dissimilate (make dissimilar; cause to become less similar)

assimilate (make similar)

affect; bear on; bear upon; impact; touch; touch on (have an effect upon)

alchemise; alchemize (alter (elements) by alchemy)

alcoholise; alcoholize (make alcoholic, as by fermenting)

form; shape (give shape or form to)

round; round down; round off; round out (express as a round number)

suspend (cause to be held in suspension in a fluid)

sober (cause to become sober)

reconstruct (cause somebody to adapt or reform socially or politically)

increase (make bigger or more)

ease off; ease up; let up (reduce pressure or intensity)

edit; redact (prepare for publication or presentation by correcting, revising, or adapting)

civilise; civilize (raise from a barbaric to a civilized state)

detransitivise; detransitivize; intransitivise; intransitivize (intransitivize)

inspissate; thicken (make thick or thicker)

full (make (a garment) fuller by pleating or gathering)

diversify (make (more) diverse)

deaden (make vapid or deprive of spirit)

check; delay; retard (slow the growth or development of)

decrease; lessen; minify (make smaller)

liquefy; liquidise; liquidize; liquify (make (a solid substance) liquid, as by heating)

solvate (cause a solvation in (a substance))

dissolve (cause to fade away)

transitivise; transitivize (make transitive)

fasten; tighten (make tight or tighter)

nationalise; nationalize (put under state control or ownership)

denationalise; denationalize (put under private control or ownership)

naturalise; naturalize (make into a citizen)

denaturalise; denaturalize (strip of the rights and duties of citizenship)

naturalise; naturalize (make more natural or lifelike)

denaturalise; denaturalize (make less natural or unnatural)

even; even out (become even or more even)

equal; equalise; equalize; equate; match (make equal, uniform, corresponding, or matching)

stiffen (make stiff or stiffer)

loose; loosen (make loose or looser)

validate (make valid or confirm the validity of)

invalidate; vitiate; void (take away the legal force of or render ineffective)

empty (make void or empty of contents)

mechanise; mechanize (make monotonous; make automatic or routine)

chord; harmonise; harmonize (bring into consonance, harmony, or accord while making music or singing)

polarise; polarize (cause to vibrate in a definite pattern)

glorify (bestow glory upon)

contaminate (make radioactive by adding radioactive material)

devalue (lower the value or quality of)

insulate (protect from heat, cold, or noise by surrounding with insulating material)

calcify (convert into lime)

urbanise; urbanize (make more industrial or city-like)

urbanise; urbanize (impart urban habits, ways of life, or responsibilities upon)

automatise; automatize (turn into an automaton)

automate; automatise; automatize (make automatic or control or operate automatically)

fill; fill up; make full (make full, also in a metaphorical sense)

saturate (cause (a chemical compound, vapour, solution, magnetic material) to unite with the greatest possible amount of another substance)

clot; coagulate (cause to change from a liquid to a solid or thickened state)

louden (cause to become loud)

normalise; normalize; renormalise; renormalize (make normal or cause to conform to a norm or standard)

morph (cause to change shape in a computer animation)

neutralise; neutralize (make chemically neutral)

commercialise; commercialize; market (make commercial)

purge; purify; sanctify (make pure or free from sin or guilt)

mechanise; mechanize (make mechanical)

emulsify (cause to become an emulsion; make into an emulsion)

Frenchify (make French in appearance or character)

crack (cause to become cracked)

change over; convert (change from one system to another or to a new plan or policy)

transform (increase or decrease (an alternating current or voltage))

transform (change (a bacterial cell) into a genetically distinct cell by the introduction of DNA from another cell of the same or closely related species)

transform (convert (one form of energy) to another)

transmute (alter the nature of (elements))

transform; transmute; transubstantiate (change or alter in form, appearance, or nature)

ash (convert into ashes)

transform; translate (change from one form or medium into another)

reclaim; rectify; reform; regenerate (bring, lead, or force to abandon a wrong or evil course of life, conduct, and adopt a right one)

convert (cause to adopt a new or different faith)

transpose (change key)

change over; shift; switch (make a shift in or exchange of)

dismiss; dissolve (declare void)

end; terminate (bring to an end or halt)

defog; demist (free from mist)

concentrate; condense; contract (compress or concentrate)

chill; cool; cool down (make cool or cooler)

heat; heat up (make hot or hotter)

warm (make warm or warmer)

boil (bring to, or maintain at, the boiling point)

freeze (cause to freeze)

blister (cause blisters to from on)

Islamise; Islamize (cause to conform to Islamic law)

invert; reverse; turn back (turn inside out or upside down)

invert (make an inversion (in a musical composition))

pressurise; pressurize; supercharge (increase the pressure on a gas or liquid)

centralise; centralize; concentrate (make central)

decentralise; decentralize; deconcentrate (make less central)

socialise; socialize (make conform to socialist ideas and philosophies)

fix; gear up; prepare; ready; set; set up (make ready or suitable or equip in advance for a particular purpose or for some use, event, etc)

internationalise; internationalize (make international in character)

bolshevise; bolshevize; communise; communize (make Communist or bring in accord with Communist principles)

Europeanise; Europeanize (make (continental) European in customs, character, or ideas)

Europeanise; Europeanize (denationalize and subject (a territory) to the supervision of an agency of a European community of nations)

bestialise; bestialize (make brutal and depraved; give animal-like qualities to)

complicate; perplex (make more complicated)

refine (make more precise or increase the discriminatory powers of)

customise; customize (make according to requirements)

individualise; individualize; personalise; personalize (make personal or more personal)

depersonalise; depersonalize; objectify (make impersonal or present as an object)

sharpen (raise the pitch of (musical notes))

drop; flatten (lower the pitch of (musical notes))

disintegrate (cause to undergo fission or lose particles)

magnetise; magnetize (make magnetic)

degauss; demagnetise; demagnetize (make nonmagnetic; take away the magnetic properties (of))

simplify (make simpler or easier or reduce in complexity or extent)

complicate; elaborate; rarify; refine (make more complex, intricate, or richer)

Americanise; Americanize (make American in character)

Sentence frames:

Somebody ----s something
Somebody ----s somebody
Something ----s somebody
Something ----s something

Sense 2alter [BACK TO TOP]


Make or become different in some particular way, without permanently losing one's or its former characteristics or essence

Classified under:

Verbs of size, temperature change, intensifying, etc.


vary; alter; change

Context examples:

her mood changes in accordance with the weather / The supermarket's selection of vegetables varies according to the season

Troponyms (each of the following is one way to "alter"):

break (vary or interrupt a uniformity or continuity)

honeycomb (make full of cavities, like a honeycomb)

narrow; narrow down; specialise; specialize (become more special)

diversify; radiate (spread into new habitats and produce variety or variegate)

branch out; broaden; diversify (vary in order to spread risk or to expand)

take in (make (clothes) smaller)

let out; widen (make (clothes) larger)

accommodate; adapt (make fit for, or change to suit a new purpose)

alternate; jump (go back and forth; swing back and forth between two states or conditions)

crackle (to become, or to cause to become, covered with a network of small cracks)

modulate (vary the frequency, amplitude, phase, or other characteristic of (electromagnetic waves))

avianise; avianize (to modify microorganisms by repeated culture in the developing chick embryo)

move (go or proceed from one point to another)

Sentence frames:

Something ----s
Somebody ----s
Somebody ----s something
Something ----s somebody
Something ----s something

Sense 3alter [BACK TO TOP]


Make an alteration to

Classified under:

Verbs of sewing, baking, painting, performing

Context example:

This dress needs to be altered

Hypernyms (to "alter" is one way to...):

alter; change; modify (cause to change; make different; cause a transformation)

"Alter" entails doing...:

sew; tailor; tailor-make (create (clothes) with cloth)

Sentence frame:

Somebody ----s something

Sentence example:

They alter the cape

Sense 4alter [BACK TO TOP]


Insert words into texts, often falsifying it thereby

Classified under:

Verbs of size, temperature change, intensifying, etc.


interpolate; alter; falsify

Hypernyms (to "alter" is one way to...):

edit; redact (prepare for publication or presentation by correcting, revising, or adapting)

Sentence frame:

Somebody ----s something

Sense 5alter [BACK TO TOP]


Remove the ovaries of

Classified under:

Verbs of grooming, dressing and bodily care


neuter; spay; castrate; alter

Context example:

Is your cat spayed?

Hypernyms (to "alter" is one way to...):

desex; desexualise; desexualize; fix; sterilise; sterilize; unsex (make infertile)

Troponyms (each of the following is one way to "alter"):

defeminise; defeminize (remove the ovaries of (female mammals such as cats))

Sentence frame:

Somebody ----s somebody

 Learn English with... Proverbs of the week 
"Think before you speak." (English proverb)

"If the thought is good, your place and path are good; if the thought is bad, your place and path are bad." (Bhutanese proverb)

"Who does not go with you, go with him." (Arabic proverb)

"Leave the spool to the artisan." (Corsican proverb)

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