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Ulterior vs Alterior: A New Word’s Struggle for Acceptance

Introduction to Ulterior and Alterior

Words hold immense power and are constantly evolving to meet the needs of a constantly changing society. Over time, words may change in meaning, or even come into existence, to embody new ideas and concepts.

In this article, we will explore the genesis of two words: ulterior and alterior, and how they differ in usage and meaning.

Meaning and Usage of Ulterior

Have you ever heard the phrase, “What’s your ulterior motive?” Ulterior is an adjective meaning “intentionally concealed” or “beyond what is openly stated.” The word is often associated with an underlying, often malevolent, motive or intention.

Ulterior motives often arise in situations where the intentions of a person are unclear.

For instance, a politician introducing a bill that secretly benefits their own company is exhibiting ulterior motives. The term ulterior motive can refer to any intentions that remain hidden behind a faade of goodwill, whether they be good or bad.of Alterior and Comparison with Ulterior

Another word that is often used interchangeably with ulterior is alterior.

However, there are subtle differences between the two words. Alterior is an adjective that means “of another, different kind” or “other than the usual or expected.” In contrast, ulterior pertains more specifically to hidden motives or intentions.

In comparison, alterior has a more positive connotation as it can imply a desirable change of direction. For instance, one may say “I’m looking for an alterior solution to this problem.” In this use, alterior suggests a path of action different from that which is typical or normal.

The use of “alterior” is becoming more common in professional settings as it can imply a degree of innovation and forward thinking. It is also commonly associated with the phrase “alterior motives,” which is often confused with “ulterior motives.” In contrast, Alterior motives usually convey good intentions that are in the greater interest of all parties involved.

How New Words are Formed

Although it may seem like the English language has already reached the limits of its vocabulary, many words have come into existence relatively recently. Here are some ways in which new words are formed:

Creation of Words from Thin Air without Etymology

Have you ever heard the word dog? Have you ever considered where it came from?

Many words in the English language come from “thin air” or lack etymologies. These words may have been invented or inspired by other languages.

Creation of New Words by Joining Existing Words or Separate Parts

Another way in which new words are formed is through the combination of two separate words or parts of two existing words. Examples of words formed in such ways include seashore, brunch, and smog.

By combining two separate words, the resultant new word often takes on an entirely new meaning.

Creation of New Words by Shortening Longer Words or Using Acronyms

Another way in which new words come into being is through the shortening of longer words or the use of acronyms. Examples of words created through these means include bus, goodbye, UN, and laser.

By shortening longer words or turning a phrase or name into an acronym, words can become more efficient and easier to understand.

Addition of Prefixes and Suffixes to Create New Words

Prefixes and suffixes offer an efficient way to form new words. The addition of a prefix or suffix to an existing word can change its meaning entirely.

Examples of words formed through the addition of prefixes and suffixes include apolitical and officialdom.

Errors Leading to the Addition of New Words

Finally, new words may come into being as the result of an error. For instance, the word buttonhole originated from the idea of holes in clothing to secure buttons.

However, it is thought to have originally been mistaken as a hole for buttons or a button for holes. The word alternate was created in a similar fashion.

It is thought to have been a mistake that arose from the Latin word alter, which means “the other of two.”


Language is a constantly evolving entity that adapts to the needs of a changing society. New words come into being as the result of a variety of factors, such as the need for efficiency or the introduction of a novel concept.

As new words are formed, their meanings and usage may change, leading to a more complex and nuanced language. The two words ulterior and alterior are examples of such evolution, each embodying different connotations and nuances in meaning and usage.

By understanding the various ways in which words can come into existence, we gain insight into the complex and fascinating nature of language.Language is often said to be a living entity because it is dynamic and constantly evolving. As language evolves, new words may come into existence as people seek to express new ideas and concepts.

However, not all words that are created survive the test of time, and some may never gain widespread acceptance. The word alterior is an example of a newly coined word that has yet to gain traction among purists, language enthusiasts, and speakers of the language.

This article explores the status of alterior and the possibility of its gaining acceptance like alternate.

Status of Alterior as a Word

As of now, the word alterior exists only in a few dictionaries and as a relatively new addition to the English language. Some language purists may argue that alterior is not technically a word, because it does not adhere to the established standards of word formation in English.

The word does not have a clear etymology, and it has not been in common usage long enough to be recognized as a legitimate word. As with many new words, there is opposition to the use of alterior, particularly in formal writing.

Language traditionalists may resist the adoption of the word, preferring instead to use more established words. This can be seen in the case of the word “irregardless,” which was a nonstandard word that was heavily criticized for a long time before gradually gaining acceptance.

Possibility of Alterior Gaining Acceptance Like Alternate

Despite its current status, there is no telling what the future holds for the word alterior. Language is constantly in flux, and what was once considered an unacceptable word might eventually gain widespread acceptance.

This phenomenon can be seen in the case of the word “alternate,” which was once considered less formal and less acceptable than “alternative.”

Over time, however, the distinction between these two words in common usage has blurred, and alternate is now often used interchangeably with alternative. It is possible that alterior could follow a similar trajectory and eventually become a commonly accepted word in the English language.

Premature Death of Alterior

On the flip side, there is also the possibility that alterior may never gain acceptance. Some of the reasons for this could be the limited usage of alterior, the resistance from language purists, or the lack of a clear etymology for the word.

It is also possible that alterior could be seen as redundant, given the existence of the word “alternative,” which already conveys a similar meaning.

Comparison of Alterior and Ulterior in Given Sentences

Ulterior and alterior are often mistakenly used interchangeably, despite having slightly different meanings. Ulterior refers specifically to hidden motives or intentions, while alterior suggests a path of action different from that which is typical or normal.

As such, certain sentences may be grammatically correct with ulterior but make no sense with alterior and incorrect with ulterior but make perfect sense with alterior. For example:

Correct usage with ulterior: “Jones had ulterior motives for voting against the proposed legislation.”

Incorrect usage with alterior: “Jones had *alterior motives* for voting against the proposed legislation.”

Incorrect usage with ulterior: “Jackson’s new plan has no ulterior motive.”

Correct usage with alterior: “Jackson’s new plan has an alterior solution.”


The creation of new words is a reflection of the changing needs of society, as people seek to express novel concepts and ideas. Not all newly created words gain widespread acceptance, and some may never be recognized as legitimate words.

Alterior is a newly coined word that currently lacks widespread usage and acceptance. Although it may never gain acceptance by language purists or in formal writing, there is always the possibility of its becoming widely used and accepted in future.

In conclusion, the English language is constantly evolving, and new words are created to express new concepts and ideas. The word alterior is a newly coined word that has yet to gain widespread acceptance.

While it may never gain acceptance or prove to be redundant, there is always the possibility that it will become a commonly accepted word in the future. The case of alterior highlights the dynamic and ever-changing nature of language and its importance in reflecting the needs and ideas of the society that speaks it.

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