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pronoun oth·er·wise \-ˌwīz\

Definition of otherwise

  1. :  something or anything else :  something to the contrary <was ordered to testify and could not do otherwise>

Origin and Etymology of otherwise

Middle English, from Old English (on) ōthre wīsan in another manner

First Known Use: before 12th century



adverb oth·er·wise

Simple Definition of otherwise

  • : in a different way or manner

  • : if something did not happen, was not true, etc.

  • : in all ways except the one mentioned

Source: Merriam-Webster's Learner's Dictionary

Full Definition of otherwise

  1. 1 :  in a different way or manner <glossed over or otherwise handled — Playboy>

  2. 2 :  in different circumstances <might otherwise have left>

  3. 3 :  in other respects <an otherwise flimsy farce — Current Biography>

  4. 4 :  if not <do what I tell you, otherwise you'll be sorry>

  5. 5 :  not —paired with an adjective, adverb, noun, or verb to indicate its contrary or to suggest an indefinite alternative <people whose deeds, admirable or otherwise — John Fischer> <almost thirty thousand women, Irish and otherwise — J. M. Burns> <his opinion as to the success or otherwise of it — Austral. Dict. of Biography>

Examples of otherwise in a sentence

  1. All of the books had been burned or otherwise destroyed.

  2. The women talked in the living room while the men were otherwise occupied.

  3. Art allows us to express things that we would not be able to express otherwise.

  4. Something must be wrong; otherwise, he would have called.

  5. The test helps identify problems that might otherwise go unnoticed.

  6. One of the boys has a freckle on his cheek. Otherwise, the twins are nearly identical.

  7. I didn't like the ending, but otherwise it was a very good book.

13th Century

First Known Use of otherwise

13th century



adjective oth·er·wise

Simple Definition of otherwise

  • : not the same

Source: Merriam-Webster's Learner's Dictionary

Full Definition of otherwise

  1. :  different <if conditions were otherwise>

Examples of otherwise in a sentence

  1. If conditions were otherwise, I wouldn't be so worried.

14th Century

First Known Use of otherwise

14th century

Rhymes with otherwise

advertise, agonize, alchemize, analyze, anglicize, anodize, anywise, aphorize, arborize, atomize, authorize, autolyze, balkanize, barbarize, bastardize, bestialize, bolshevize, booby prize, botanize, bowdlerize, brutalize, canalize, canonize, capsulize, caramelize, carbonize, cartelize, catalyze, catechize, cauterize, centralize, channelize, Christianize, cicatrize, circumcise, civilize, classicize, colonize, colorize, communize, compromise, concertize, concretize, creolize, criticize, customize, demonize, deputize, dialyze, digitize, disfranchise, dogmatize, dramatize, elegize, empathize, emphasize, energize, enfranchise, enterprise, equalize, erotize, eternize, etherize, eulogize, euphemize, exercise, exorcise, factorize, fantasize, federalize, feminize, fertilize, feudalize, fictionize, finalize, focalize, formalize, formulize, fossilize, fragmentize, fraternize, gallicize, galvanize, germanize, ghettoize, glamorize, globalize, gormandize, gothicize, gourmandize, grecianize, harmonize, heathenize, hebraize, hellenize, heroize, hierarchize, humanize, hybridize, hypnotize, idolize, immunize, iodize, ionize, ironize, Islamize, itemize, jeopardize, journalize, Judaize, laicize, latinize, legalize, lionize, liquidize, localize, magnetize, marbleize, martyrize, maximize, mechanize, melanize, melodize, memorize, merchandise, mesmerize, methodize, metricize, minimize, mobilize, modernize, moisturize, mongrelize, moralize, motorize, mythicize, narcotize, nasalize, nebulize, neutralize, normalize, notarize, novelize, obelize, odorize, optimize, organize, ostracize, oversize, oxidize, paganize, palletize, paradise, paralyze, pasteurize, patronize, pauperize, penalize, penny-wise, personalize, pidginize, plasticize, Platonize, pluralize, pocket-size, poetize, polarize, polemize, pressurize, privatize, profitwise, prussianize, publicize, pulverize, racialize, randomize, rationalize, realize, recognize, rhapsodize, robotize, romanize, sanitize, satirize, scandalize, schematize, schismatize, scrutinize, sensitize, sermonize, signalize, simonize, sinicize, slenderize, sloganize, socialize, sodomize, solarize, solemnize, specialize, stabilize, Stalinize, standardize, sterilize, stigmatize, strategize, subsidize, summarize, supervise, syllogize, symbolize, sympathize, synchronize, syncretize, synopsize, synthesize, systemize, tantalize, televise, temporize, tenderize, terrorize, tetanize, teutonize, texturize, theorize, thermalize, totalize, tranquilize, traumatize, tyrannize, unionize, unitize, urbanize, utilize, valorize, vandalize, vaporize, verbalize, vernalize, victimize, vitalize, vocalize, vulcanize, vulgarize, weather-wise, weatherize, westernize, winterize, womanize, worldly-wise

OTHERWISE Defined for Kids


adverb oth·er·wise \ˈə-thər-ˌwīz\

Definition of otherwise for Students

  1. 1 :  in another way <He never treated her otherwise than with respect.>

  2. 2 :  in different circumstances <Thanks for driving; otherwise I couldn't go.>

  3. 3 :  in other ways <Trucks aren't allowed, but it is an otherwise busy street.>

  4. 4 :  if not :  or else <“I always have to sing to myself for a while; otherwise I can't sleep …” — Astrid Lindgren, Pippi Longstocking>

Seen and Heard

What made you want to look up otherwise? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to proceed clumsily or ineffectually

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