What Does ALT Mean in a Text?

ALT means "alternative" or, sometimes, "alternate." Of note, an "alternative" is a second option, but an "alternate" is a replacement option. For example:
  • Your proposed route is slow. We need an alternative option.
  • (There are two options. Option 2 is an alternative for option 1.)
  • Your proposed route is blocked. We need an alternate option.
  • (There is only one option. Option 2 is an alternate for option 1.)

The Precise Meaning of ALT Depends on Context

The precise meaning of ALT depends heavily on the context in which it used.

Alt (in a Music Context)

In music and fashion, "ALT" means "alternative." It is used as an antonym for "mainstream." In other words, a follower of ALT music is someone who likes non-chart music by niche bands.
  • Tony: Do you want to watch Green Day next month?
  • Jordan: Nah, I only like ALT music.
  • Tony: Green Day are ALT!
  • Jordan: Not these days! They're mainstream.

Alt (in a Gaming Context)

In gaming, "ALT" refers to a second ID for a player.
  • Alex: I just got DEBO'd by some NOOB called "Shark Eater."
  • Sasha: Ha ha, that's my ALT! Got you.
  • Alex: 8==D
  • Sasha: 8-)

Alt (in a Social Media Context)

On social media, "ALT" refers to a second account. Often an ALT account is set up to counter a view by the original account in order to kickstart a conversation or to add controversy.
  • MAGADude: BLM is a money-making scam!
  • TallBoyLeRoy: Would you like to say that F2F?
  • ADMINISTRATOR: The IP of these accounts suggests that TallBoyLeRoy is an ALT of MAGADude. Both accounts have been suspended indefinitely.

Alt (on a Keyboard)

The ALT Key on a keyboard is to the left of the space bar. It is typically used in combination with another key as a shortcut to run a Windows function. For example, "Alt Print Screen" captures an image only of the window that is in use, not the whole screen. Also, in a program like Microsoft Word, the ALT Key can be held down while an ALT Code is entered as a quick way to produce a special symbol.
  • Student: How do I get the plus minus sign?
  • Physics teacher: Hold down ALT and type 0177 on your numeric pad.
  • Student: Whoah! That's cool!
Here are pages that list thousands of useful Alt Codes:

Alt Codes for accented letters
Alt Codes for arrow symbols
Alt Codes for currency symbols
Alt Codes for fraction
Alt Codes for Greek letter symbols
Alt Codes for heart symbols
Alt Codes for music symbols
Alt Codes for Mathematics symbols
Alt Codes for punctuation symbols
Alt Codes for special symbols

Alt (in Website Design)

In website design, the ALT attribute is part of the IMG tag. It is used to assist search engines (like Google) with finding relevant images. It is also used by visually impaired internet users to help understand what the image is.
  • Web designer NOOB: What does the ALT tag do?
  • NOOB's boss: Firstly, it's not a tag. It's an attribute of the IMG tag. It helps search engines find your image.

Image for ALT

When I write ALT, I mean this:

meaning of ALT

ALT often refers to the Alt Key or an alternative account or profile (i.e., an alter-ego).

Summary of Key Points

"Alternative" is the most common definition for ALT on Snapchat, WhatsApp, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and TikTok.
Type:Word (A second option)
Guessability:guessability level 1
1: Easy to guess
Typical Users:typical user

Adults and Teenagers

Second Definition for Alt

This meaning was also noted:
Type:Word (A replacement option)
Guessability:guessability level 1
1: Easy to guess
Typical Users:typical user

Adults and Teenagers

Example of ALT Used in a Text

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