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oth·​er·​wise ˈə-t͟hər-ˌwīz How to pronounce otherwise (audio)
: something or anything else : something to the contrary
was ordered to testify and could not do otherwise


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: in a different way or manner
glossed over or otherwise handledPlayboy
All shows begin at 8:00 unless otherwise noted.
: in different circumstances
might otherwise have left
The test helps identify problems that might have otherwise gone unnoticed.
: 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.
: 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.
: not
paired with an adjective, adverb, noun, or verb to indicate its contrary or to suggest an indefinite alternative
people whose deeds, admirable or otherwiseJohn Fischer
almost thirty thousand women, Irish and otherwiseJ. M. Burns
his opinion as to the success or otherwise of itAustralian Dictionary of Biography


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: different
if conditions were otherwise

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.
Recent Examples on the Web
The Quinnipiac Poll found that Kennedy’s support comes roughly equally from voters who might otherwise favor Biden or Trump, but support for Stein and West comes mostly from voters who would otherwise back Biden. Doyle McManus, Los Angeles Times, 8 Apr. 2024 Unfortunately, this cast a shadow over an episode otherwise filled with standout performances, giving each contestant's journey a less sincere feel. Kimi Robinson, USA TODAY, 8 Apr. 2024 See all Example Sentences for otherwise 

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'otherwise.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Pronoun, Adverb, and Adjective

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

First Known Use


15th century, in the meaning defined above


13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


14th century, in the meaning defined above

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

Dictionary Entries Near otherwise

Cite this Entry

“Otherwise.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/otherwise. Accessed 12 Apr. 2024.

Kids Definition


: in a different way : differently
could not do otherwise
: in different circumstances
otherwise we might have won
: in other respects
the otherwise busy street

More from Merriam-Webster on otherwise

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