A COBOL statement so dangerous I can hardly bring myself to describe it. It's a dirty job, but someone's gotta do it, I guess.

The ALTER statement allows a programmer to amend the target of a labelled GOTO statement. That is,

    PERFORM PARA-0200.
    PERFORM PARA-0100.
    EXIT.  

PARA-0100.
    GOTO.

PARA-0200.
    ALTER PARA-0100 TO PROCEED TO
        PARA-1050, PARA-2050, PARA-1057, PARA-3050, 
        PARA-3000, PARA-4000, PARA-4050, PARA-2050
    DEPENDING ON REC-TYPE.
    EXIT.
I guess, somewhere, there's a COBOL programmer who will describe the behaviour that results from the above as polymorphic... One such statement in a program is bad. In my experience, however, it becomes endemic, something to be used at every opportunity.

Goes hand in hand with excess use of periods.

When speaking of a person who has multiple personality disorder, aka dissociative identity disorder, each different personality is called an "alter."

Al"ter (#), v. t. [imp. & p. p. Altered (#); p. pr. & vb. n. Altering.] [F. alt'erer, LL. alterare, fr. L. alter other, alius other. Cf. Else, Other.]

1.

To make otherwise; to change in some respect, either partially or wholly; to vary; to modify.

"To alter the king's course." "To alter the condition of a man." "No power in Venice can alter a decree."

Shak.

It gilds all objects, but it alters none. Pope.

My covenant will I not break, nor alter the thing that is gone out of my lips. Ps. lxxxix. 34.

2.

To agitate; to affect mentally.

[Obs.]

Milton.

3.

To geld.

[Colloq.]

Syn. -- Change, Alter. Change is generic and the stronger term. It may express a loss of identity, or the substitution of one thing in place of another; alter commonly expresses a partial change, or a change in form or details without destroying identity.

 

© Webster 1913.


Al"ter, v. i.

To become, in some respects, different; to vary; to change; as, the weather alters almost daily; rocks or minerals alter by exposure.

"The law of the Medes and Persians, which altereth not."

Dan. vi. 8.

 

© Webster 1913.

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