Writing for Business - A Whatis.com Blog

Jul 16 2009   5:37PM GMT

Which is correct — alterior or ulterior?

Ivy Wigmore Ivy Wigmore Profile: Ivy Wigmore

typing Which is correct?
Although ISPs promote DNS redirection as a service to customers, customers typically think the ISPs have _______ motives.
a. alterior
b. ulterior

Answer: b

Explanation: Ulterior, in this context, means hidden. Alterior, on the other hand, is not a word. If it were, however, it probably would mean something like alternate. Which is probably where the confusion comes from — people thinking that saying someone has “an alterior motive” means they have a different motive from the one they claim.

Alterior is featured in the Eggcorn Database. (An eggcorn is a word used mistakenly because it sounds like the correct word.)

Grammar Girl differentiates between Spoonerisms, Mondegreens, Eggcorns, and Malapropisms.

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  • jackie140
    Alterior has no meaningful connection with ‘ulterior’. To those who think that ‘alterior’ isn’t a word, well it is. A word exists the moment it is transmitted and correctly understood. It may be some time before it reaches the world’s dictionaries; these merely record language, they don’t create it. Alterior means: higher, above, superior, better etc. Have fun! Jackie.
    10 pointsBadges:

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