or

1 of 8

conjunction (1)

ər,
ˈȯr How to pronounce or (audio)
 Southern also  ˈär
1
used as a function word to indicate an alternative
coffee or tea
sink or swim
, the equivalent or substitutive character of two words or phrases
lessen or abate
, or approximation or uncertainty
in five or six days
2
archaic : either
3
archaic : whether
4
used in logic as a sentential connective that forms a complex sentence which is true when at least one of its constituent sentences is true
compare disjunction

or

2 of 8

preposition

archaic
: before

or

3 of 8

conjunction (2)

archaic
: before

or

4 of 8

noun (1)

: the heraldic color gold or yellow

OR

5 of 8

noun (2)

: a logical operator that requires at least one of two inputs to be present or conditions to be met for an output to be made or a statement to be executed
OR gate in a computer

OR

6 of 8

abbreviation

1
operating room
2
operational research; operations research
3
Oregon
4
owner's risk
5
own recognizance

-or

7 of 8

noun suffix (1)

: one that does a (specified) thing
grantor

-or

8 of 8

noun suffix (2)

: condition : activity
demeanor

Word History

Etymology

Conjunction (1) and Noun (2)

Middle English, alteration of other, alteration of Old English oththe; akin to Old High German eddo or

Preposition

Middle English, from or, adverb, early, before, from Old Norse ār; akin to Old English ǣr early — more at ere

Noun (1)

Middle English, from Anglo-French, gold, from Latin aurum — more at aureus

Noun suffix (1)

Middle English, from Anglo-French -ur, -our, -eour & Latin -or; Anglo-French -ur, -our, from Latin -or; Anglo-French -eour, from Latin -ator, from -a-, verb stem + -tor, agent suffix; akin to Greek -tōr, agent suffix, Sanskrit -tā

Noun suffix (2)

Middle English, from Anglo-French, from Latin

First Known Use

Conjunction (1)

13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Preposition

13th century, in the meaning defined above

Conjunction (2)

13th century, in the meaning defined above

Noun (1)

15th century, in the meaning defined above

Noun (2)

1947, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of or was in the 13th century

Dictionary Entries Near or

Cite this Entry

“Or.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/or. Accessed 27 May. 2024.

Kids Definition

or

1 of 3 conjunction
ər,
(ˌ)ȯ(ə)r
used to indicate an alternative
coffee or tea
sink or swim

-or

2 of 3 noun suffix
ər,
ˌȯ(ə)r,
ˈȯ(ə)r
: one that does a specified thing
elevator

-or

3 of 3 noun suffix
ər
: condition : activity
demeanor
Etymology

Noun suffix

derived from Latin -or or -ator, both meaning "one that does something"

Noun suffix

derived from Latin -or "condition, activity"

Medical Definition

OR

abbreviation
operating room

Legal Definition

OR

abbreviation
own recognizance

More from Merriam-Webster on or

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!