1. the act or process of alternating or the state of being alternated.
  2. alternate succession; repeated rotation: the alternation of the seasons.
  3. Electricity. a single fluctuation in the absolute value of an alternating current or voltage from zero to a maximum and back to zero, being equal to one half cycle.
  4. Linguistics. variation in the form of a linguistic unit as it occurs in different environments or under different conditions, as between the -ed and -en forms of the past participle in danced and spoken or between the (t) and (d) pronunciations of the past tense suffix -ed in hopped and rubbed.


  1. successive change from one condition or action to another and back again repeatedly
  2. logic another name for disjunction (def. 3)

mid-15c., from Old French alternacion, from Latin alternationem (nominative alternatio), noun of action from past participle stem of alternare (see alternate (v.)).


  1. Successive change from one thing or state to another and back again.
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