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 While the plans are certain to stir debate and draw out what is otherwise a procedural vote, the efforts won't change the results of the election. Ryan W. Miller, USA TODAY, "'Trump is my president': Protesters begin gathering in DC a day before Congress certifies election," 5 Jan. 2021 Sometimes the guardians live out of state or are otherwise hard to reach, causing further delays. Lara Farrar, Arkansas Online, "Pace of shots lags as challenges grow," 1 Jan. 2021 Two lunar eclipses, a good summer meteor shower, and a close planetary conjunction highlight the stargazing calendar in 2021, which will otherwise be relatively quiet. oregonlive, "Stargazing calendar 2021: Eclipses, meteor showers and other astronomical events this year," 30 Dec. 2020 Miller was struck by the lengths to which otherwise rational people were willing to go to indulge the paranoid fantasies of an erratic politician. Erin Overbey, The New Yorker, "New Yorker Classics That Resonated in 2020," 29 Dec. 2020 Without the canisters, patients who might otherwise be able to go home -- and free up a bed and health care workers' time -- have to stay in the hospital. Cheri Mossburg And Madeline Holcombe, CNN, "Oxygen supply issues forced five Los Angeles-area hospitals to declare an 'internal disaster'," 29 Dec. 2020 The generations of male bakers that followed often credited their mères and grands-mères as inspiration for their careers, but women have otherwise been footnotes at best. Lindsey Tramuta, Condé Nast Traveler, "The Women Bringing Paris’s Storied Baking Tradition Into the Future," 29 Dec. 2020 Alabama State Superintendent Eric Mackey told AL.com the voucher program has been successful, connecting thousands of students who otherwise would not be able to afford broadband internet access. al, "Alabama internet voucher program for students extended through spring 2021," 28 Dec. 2020 The people experiencing neurological damage often aren’t otherwise very sick. Michelle Theriault Boots, Anchorage Daily News, "“I’ve lost who I am”: An Anchorage teacher’s coronavirus infection affected her brain. Now she’s having to relearn basic living.," 27 Dec. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective Then, amid the border clashes in June, the otherwise investor-friendly government of Maharashtra, a western state in India, paused or canceled a number of agreements signed with leading Chinese companies earlier this year, Ghosh said. Sherisse Pham, CNN, "Chinese tech companies bet big on India. Now they're being shut out," 10 Dec. 2020 Newsom shared a few bright points in his otherwise dreary briefing, including that California will receive 327,000 doses of the first coronavirus vaccine in the next few weeks. Erin Allday, SFChronicle.com, "Bay Area braces for lockdown as California case counts, hospitalizations soar," 30 Nov. 2020 The small, handheld device can be customized with an app to add heat, cryotherapy, vibrations, and LED lights to your otherwise basic skincare routine. Medea Giordano, Wired, "The Best Black Friday Deals on Health, Beauty, and Sex Tech," 27 Nov. 2020 And why the sprinkling of fiction in an otherwise nonfiction book? Ling Ma, Wired, "‘One Person’s Apocalypse Is Another Person’s Day-to-Day’," 17 Nov. 2020 The kitchen has dark cabinets that accent the otherwise white walls throughout. Dallas News, "Check out this custom home built for an HGTV star and former Dallas Cowboys cheerleader," 30 Oct. 2020 The rapid approval is part of the FDA’s Emergency Investigational New Drug appeal process, by which physicians can apply to fast-track promising treatments through an otherwise time-consuming and lengthy approval process. Claire Goodman, Houston Chronicle, "FDA approves new COVID-19 drug treatment from Austin," 19 Oct. 2020 Home Depot reported sales growth that was more than double the already brisk rate analysts had been expecting, but rising expenses meant flat margins in an otherwise standout quarter. BostonGlobe.com, "Dana-Farber CEO joining Analog board," 18 Aug. 2020 There's a fairly large CMR cache area on the otherwise SMR disks, as well as a 256MiB volatile (RAM) cache. Jim Salter, Ars Technica, "Western Digital adds “Red Plus” branding for non-SMR hard drives," 24 June 2020

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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Time Traveler for otherwise

Time Traveler

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

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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 16 Jan. 2021.

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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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