Definitions from Black's Law Dictionary: 2nd Edition and Ballentine's Law Dictionary as are available for each term in each dictionary.
  • Black's Law Dictionary: 2nd Edition

    To make a change in; to modify ; to vary in some degree; to change some of the elements or ingredients or details without substituting an entirely new thing or destroying the identity of the thing affected. Hannibal v. Winchell. 54 Mo. 177; Haynes v. State, 15 Ohio St. 455; Davis v. Campbell, 93 Iowa, 524, 61 N. W. 1053; Sessions v. State, 115 Ga. 18, 41 S. E. 259. See ANTERATION. Synonyms. This term is to be distinguished from its synonyms "change" and "amend." To change may import the substitution of an entirely different thing, while to alter is to operate upon a subject-matter which continues objectively the same while modified in some particular. If a check is raised, in respect to its amount, it is altered; if a new check is put in its place, it is changed. To "amend" implies that the modification made in the subject improves it, which is not necessarily the case with an alteration. An amendment always involves an alteration, but an alteration does not always amend.