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 alternativepeople 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

Antonyms: Adverb

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Examples of otherwise in a Sentence

Adverb 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. Adjective If conditions were otherwise, I wouldn't be so worried.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Adverb The disqualified winner of the Kentucky Derby has had a pretty good year, otherwise. John Cherwa, Los Angeles Times, "Racing! Taking an early look at the Breeders’ Cup Classic," 16 Sep. 2019 But major improvement is needed, otherwise Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang will be having another field day. SI.com, "Aston Villa 0-0 West Ham: Report, Ratings & Reaction as Teams Play Out Bore Draw," 16 Sep. 2019 While there are some obvious omissions, such as Sonic and Knuckles, the Sega Genesis Mini does offer some titles that were otherwise unavailable for Genesis fans to take in, like Mega Man: The Wily Wars, Tetris, and Darius. Brittany Vincent, Popular Mechanics, "Sega Genesis Mini Review: The Genesis of Excellent Miniature Consoles," 12 Sep. 2019 So mutations that otherwise would have been either neutral or even detrimental actually had a positive fitness effect. Jason Daley, Smithsonian, "Wolves Gave Tibetan Mastiffs Their Mountaineering Genes," 9 Sep. 2019 The co-op team — in its third year of existence under the Academy Force name — is providing opportunities to those who may not otherwise have them. Jace Frederick, Twin Cities, "Academy Force, the East Metro’s prep football co-op, is about more than winning (or losing)," 5 Sep. 2019 The spray field will be used to dispose of effluent in excess of effluent that would otherwise be disposed of through landscape and agricultural irrigation. Julie Gallant, Ramona Sentinel, "RMWD pursues untreated water study, spray field bids," 5 Sep. 2019 Niko lost about 15 pounds but is otherwise doing well. Lindsay Nadrich, The Seattle Times, "After 31 days lost in the woods, dog is reunited with his Vancouver, Wash., family," 3 Sep. 2019 But Portland’s performance in the attack over the last five games has otherwise left a lot to be desired. Jamie Goldberg, oregonlive, "Portland Timbers’ attack continues to struggle against bunkering opponents," 17 Sep. 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

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).


a calculated move

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