What was once a prefix used to classify subgenres has become one of the more controversial modifiers of our day.
White supremacists have co-opted a combining form traditionally used for musical and literary genres, Merriam-Webster wrote last week of alt-right.
Short, of course, for alternative an adjective meaning different from the usual or conventional , the prefix alt denotes something that rebels against tradition while belonging to it.
Alt was the preferred prefix for a classification of Usenet newsgroups that were created as an alternative forum to preexisting mainstream newsgroups, Merriam-Webster recounts on its blog.
Popular in the 1980s and 90s, newsgroups were akin to online discussion groups and Usenet like a bulletin board system BBS that functioned as the precursor to internet forums.
There was a significant number of people who felt that there should be a provision for a place where people could create groups without having to go through any discussion or votes.