oth·​er·​wise | \ ˈə-t͟hər-ˌwīz How to pronounce otherwise (audio) \

Definition of otherwise

 (Entry 1 of 3)

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



Definition of otherwise (Entry 2 of 3)

1 : in a different way or manner glossed over or otherwise handledPlayboy All shows begin at 8:00 unless otherwise noted.
2 : in different circumstances might otherwise have left The test helps identify problems that might have otherwise gone unnoticed.
3 : in other respects an otherwise flimsy farceCurrent Biography I didn't like the ending, but otherwise it was a very good book. The patient had a foot problem, but she was otherwise healthy.
4 : if not do what I tell you, otherwise you'll be sorry Tickets can be bought in advance at a discount; otherwise they can be purchased at the door for full price.
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 Fischeralmost thirty thousand women, Irish and otherwise— J. M. Burnshis opinion as to the success or otherwise of itAustralian Dictionary of Biography



Definition of otherwise (Entry 3 of 3)

: different if conditions were otherwise

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Synonyms & Antonyms for otherwise

Synonyms: Adverb

differently, else, other (than)

Antonyms: Adverb


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Examples of otherwise in a Sentence


All of the books had been burned or otherwise destroyed. The women talked in the living room while the men were otherwise occupied. Art allows us to express things that we would not be able to express otherwise. Something must be wrong; otherwise, he would have called. The test helps identify problems that might otherwise go unnoticed. One of the boys has a freckle on his cheek. Otherwise, the twins are nearly identical. I didn't like the ending, but otherwise it was a very good book.


If conditions were otherwise, I wouldn't be so worried.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Adverb

Wimmer tells me that Punctuation was otherwise in excellent condition. Nick Hawkins, National Geographic, "6 recent deaths push rare whales closer to extinction," 11 July 2019 Thomas Landstreet, Former research writer for Art Laffer and Laffer Associates; CEO, N3L Capital Partners Argument FOR a cut: The Fed has to cut because the market will get crushed otherwise. Bob Sellers, Fortune, "Will the Fed Cut Interest Rates to Prevent Recession? 6 Predictions," 11 July 2019 Having mental health options in school could allow schools to serve students faster and help students who potentially are uninsured or wouldn't otherwise have access, Beresford said. Emma Kate Fittes, Indianapolis Star, "Why Carmel Schools says it needs a safety referendum," 10 July 2019 Timing may have played a part in the poor showing by Houston and Dallas, who otherwise have dynamic economies. Aldo Svaldi, The Denver Post, "Metro Denver businesses mostly seeing green, not red," 10 July 2019 Instead, a better strategy would be finding ways to nudge people into pre-ordering who might otherwise not consider it. Anya Samek, The Conversation, "Selecting groceries ahead of time helps some shoppers make healthier choices," 10 July 2019 Now grab a drink, gather your friends and put your most random and otherwise useless knowledge to the test. Kaitlyn Bancroft, The Know, "Geek out at these 10 free weekly trivia nights in Denver," 9 July 2019 Positivity is not a prerequisite for motherhood, as much as our culture may demand otherwise. Olivia Campbell, Good Housekeeping, "I've Struggled With Depression, So I Can't Always Be The "Happy" Mom," 8 July 2019 Today’s close match against otherwise undefeated Netherlands, the reigning European champions, is proof of this truth in women’s soccer: Invest in it and the trophies will come. Maggie Mertens, The Atlantic, "The U.S. Women’s Soccer Team Deserves More Than a Trophy," 7 July 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'otherwise.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of otherwise


15th century, in the meaning defined above


13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


14th century, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for otherwise

Pronoun, Adverb, and Adjective

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

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Statistics for otherwise

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for otherwise

The first known use of otherwise was in the 13th century

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More Definitions for otherwise



English Language Learners Definition of otherwise

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: in a different way or manner
: if something did not happen, was not true, etc.
: in all ways except the one mentioned



English Language Learners Definition of otherwise (Entry 2 of 2)

: not the same


oth·​er·​wise | \ ˈə-t͟hər-ˌwīz How to pronounce otherwise (audio) \

Kids Definition of otherwise

1 : in another way He never treated her otherwise than with respect.
2 : in different circumstances Thanks for driving; otherwise I couldn't go.
3 : in other ways Trucks aren't allowed, but it is an otherwise busy street.
4 : if not : or else “I always have to sing to myself for a while; otherwise I can't sleep …”— Astrid Lindgren, Pippi Longstocking

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Comments on otherwise

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


to form ideas or theories about something

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