late 14c., alteracioun, "change, transformation, action of altering," from Old French alteracion "change, alteration" (14c.), and directly from Medieval Latin alterationem (nominative alteratio), noun of action from past-participle stem of Late Latin alterare "to change," from Latin alter "the other (of the two)," from PIE root *al- (1) "beyond" + comparative suffix -ter (as in other).
The meaning "change in character or appearance" is from 1530s; that of "change in ready-made clothes to suit a customer's specifications" is from 1901. Related: Alterations.
1898 in the modern sense of "change the order of" (earlier "to change, alter, 16c. but obsolete thereafter), from Latin permutatus, past participle of permutare "change thoroughly, exchange" (see permutation). "Probably regarded by those who use it as a back-formation from permutation" [OED]. Compare permute. Related: Permutated; permutating.
late 14c., "to change (something), make different in some way," from Old French alterer "to change, alter," from Medieval Latin alterare "to change," from Latin alter "the other (of the two)," from PIE root *al- (1) "beyond" + comparative suffix -ter (as in other). Intransitive sense "to become otherwise" first recorded 1580s. Related: Altered; altering.
1570s, in grammar, "transposition of letters in a word;" c. 1600, "rhetorical transposition of words," from Late Latin metathesis, from Greek metathesis "change of position, transposition, change of opinion," from stem of metatithenai "to transpose," from meta "change" (see meta-) + tithenai "to place, to set," from reduplicated form of PIE root *dhe- "to set, put." Plural is metatheses. Related: Metathetic; metathetical.
early 15c., "bottom of the sea," from Old French profundite (Modern French profondité) and directly from Late Latin profunditatem (nominative profunditas) "depth, intensity, immensity," from profundus "deep, vast" (see profound). Meaning "depth of intellect, feeling, or spiritual mystery" in English is from c. 1500.