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

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. See More
Recent Examples on the Web: Adverb The material also eliminates air bubbles that would otherwise pop up between the ultrasound’s probe and the skin. Edward Chen, STAT, 2 Aug. 2022 Other states in the Northeast took advantage of the opportunity relatively quickly and began collecting tax revenue from bets otherwise headed to offshore operations or local bookmaking operations. Michael Silverman, BostonGlobe.com, 1 Aug. 2022 The euphemism in the title is the single mark of placation; the vibe is otherwise unapologetic. Doreen St. Félix, The New Yorker, 1 Aug. 2022 Advocates for and against the Kansas amendment agreed that the U.S. Supreme Court's decision overturning Roe has energized and engaged voters for what would have been an otherwise sleepy summer election. Sarah Herndon, ABC News, 1 Aug. 2022 Green-energy supporters say the Ukraine war and high fuel prices could help accelerate the continent’s transition, forcing painful shifts away from oil and gas, and changing consumer habits that otherwise might have stayed entrenched. Anna Hirtenstein, WSJ, 1 Aug. 2022 Although inflammation is a common feature of many infections, viral and otherwise, SARS-CoV-2 elicits a particularly intense inflammatory response. William A. Haseltine, Forbes, 1 Aug. 2022 Back in 2013, Mayor Greg Fischer issued an executive order directing city agencies to publish data sets that would otherwise be considered public records under Kentucky’s open records law. Jonathan Bullington, The Courier-Journal, 1 Aug. 2022 On the bridge of the starship Enterprise, in a red minidress that permitted her to flaunt her dancer’s legs, Ms. Nichols stood out among the otherwise all-male officers. Adam Bernstein, Washington Post, 31 July 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective Notably, the smooth saxophone glided through the robust band, standing out among the otherwise head-banging song. Griffin Wiles, The Indianapolis Star, 25 June 2022 Absent the Derby winner — the fourth consecutive year there’s no real chance at a Triple Crown at the Preakness — the focus is on the filly in what Lukas called an otherwise vanilla race. Stephen Whyno, Hartford Courant, 20 May 2022 Its pine-shaded avenues are a shock of green on the otherwise arid steppe, lined with chocolate factories, barbecue restaurants, and gift shops that sell bittersweet jams made from the berry of the town's namesake plant. Mark Johanson, Travel + Leisure, 23 Apr. 2022 Fanning softened the otherwise sultry look with a simple sweep of light pink blush and a matching lip. Emily Tannenbaum, Glamour, 22 Apr. 2022 The lip oils' signature fragrances include 8 percent precious sandalwood, which is used to counterbalance their otherwise fruity notes. Tiffany Dodson, Harper's BAZAAR, 18 Apr. 2022 Additionally, Colegrove noted and photographed each tuft of pale fur, a dollop of cream on an otherwise coffee and cinnamon pelt. Elizabeth Miller, Smithsonian Magazine, 28 Mar. 2022 Then after the otherwise garden variety Cactus League game, Frelick had a tough time wiping the grin off his face while speaking to the media on the field. Todd Rosiak, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 22 Mar. 2022 But that was the one moment of protest in an otherwise air-tight medley celebrating Dre-style hip-hop and L.A. positivity. Jem Aswad, Variety, 13 Feb. 2022 See More

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.

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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Time Traveler for otherwise

Time Traveler

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

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Dictionary Entries Near otherwise



otherwise engaged

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Statistics for otherwise

Cite this Entry

“Otherwise.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/otherwise. Accessed 10 Aug. 2022.

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More Definitions for otherwise


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

More from Merriam-Webster on otherwise

Nglish: Translation of otherwise for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of otherwise for Arabic Speakers


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