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.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Adverb Penny lost almost half of her body weight during her 34-day odyssey, but was otherwise healthy. San Diego Union-Tribune, 9 Jan. 2022 Texas did establish a little offensive rhythm late to salvage what was otherwise an anemic first half. Nick Moyle, San Antonio Express-News, 8 Jan. 2022 The results: Tens of thousands — likely well over 100,000 Americans who would otherwise be alive — have died because of tribal opposition to taking a safe, effective vaccine to prevent an infectious disease. David Lauter, Los Angeles Times, 7 Jan. 2022 Biden also pointed to those who might otherwise be allies who clearly didn’t back up Trump’s claims. Aaron Blake, Anchorage Daily News, 6 Jan. 2022 RRC/HC referrals will be for no less than 30 days and inmates must otherwise be eligible for RRC placement. Walter Pavlo, Forbes, 5 Jan. 2022 In the process, Republicans hope, the eventual Democratic nominee will emerge from an extended primary bruised up and poorer than might have otherwise been the case. Daniel Strauss, The New Republic, 5 Jan. 2022 A third of the 915 patients were otherwise healthy, without any underlying health problems that would have put them at greater risk. NBC News, 4 Jan. 2022 Tricoche’s colleagues knew him as an officer who had a fierce sense of duty but was otherwise an unusual figure on the force. New York Times, 4 Jan. 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective In the Trans-Pecos region where we were headed, a chain of mountain ranges provides humid and elevated refuges in the otherwise arid and flat Chihuahuan Desert. Marion Renault, The New Republic, 20 Dec. 2021 Technology’s prominence rose to the forefront of the classroom experience during the COVID pandemic, serving as a way to connect and learn, during a time of otherwise isolation. Caroline Allen, Forbes, 23 Oct. 2021 There seems little question that the otherwise stillness and purity of silence on your street is going to be usurped by those that own and are operating their self-driving cars. Lance Eliot, Forbes, 10 Oct. 2021 Occasional bumps arise from having the tires go over a rough patch on the highway, providing an almost welcome respite from the otherwise tedium and boredom of this driving trek. Lance Eliot, Forbes, 6 Sep. 2021 The otherwise health baby was diagnosed with COVID-19. Nada Hassanein, USA TODAY, 28 Aug. 2021 For much of the summer and fall our otherwise blue skies maybe tainted with a dirty, hazy pall of orange from flames a thousand miles away. Todd Nelson, Star Tribune, 11 July 2021 Tokyo organizers have said some Olympic and government officials and sponsors would be allowed at the otherwise spectator-free venues. Rachel Bachman, WSJ, 20 July 2021 The islands act like a comb that gather debris on its otherwise pristine beaches. Elinor Aspegren, USA TODAY, 23 Apr. 2021

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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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 20 Jan. 2022.

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More Definitions for otherwise



English Language Learners Definition of otherwise (Entry 2 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 3 of 2)

: not the same : different


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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