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

This black brick packs in 20,000mAh, which Anker says can charge an iPhone almost 7 times over, and works with any gadget imaginable—whether iOS, Android, or otherwise. Popular Mechanics Editors, Popular Mechanics, "Anker's Best Charging Gear Is On Sale Today Only," 13 May 2019 By adding an archway to the bedroom’s entrance, Jason created architectural interest in the otherwise boxy space. Lucia Tonelli, ELLE Decor, "Best Room Wins Episode Two Steps Up to the Challenge of Contemporary," 9 May 2019 Their romance provides one of the show's central storylines—along with Lister’s struggles with her family and her efforts to make a name in the coal business, which was otherwise controlled by men—and gives it more than a small dose of heart. Adam Rathe, Town & Country, "The actress, a veteran of Bodyguard and Peaky Blinders, says portraying the 19th-century character Ann Walker is “one of the hardest jobs I’ve ever done.”," 7 May 2019 And in an otherwise bleak 2018 for the GOP, Trump helped flip two congressional seats to Republicans. Zeke Miller, The Seattle Times, "Trump campaign eyes chances to vie for states lost in 2016," 14 Apr. 2019 The leather envelope closure, gold buttons, and logo zipper gave the otherwise plain bag the slightest touch of elegance, which was a plus. Glamour, "The Longchamp Le Pliage Bag Is the Perfect Tote Bag, Period," 18 Apr. 2019 The biggest difference is simply that natural pool water hasn’t been chlorinated or otherwise chemically filtered. Rebekah Lowin, Country Living, "What's a Natural Swimming Pool, and Why Would You Want One?," 11 Apr. 2019 The Moon Village must be able to sustain human life in an otherwise uninhabitable setting. Hadley Keller, House Beautiful, "Is This Inflatable City What Life Would Look Like on the Moon?," 11 Apr. 2019 Thus far, there has been no announcement of where Meghan will give birth, in a hospital or otherwise, and there will be no photocall with the newborn royal baby outside the hospital. Caroline Hallemann, Town & Country, "How Meghan Markle's Birth Plan Will Differ from Kate Middleton's," 11 Apr. 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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