either

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See also: eiþer

English[edit]

Etymology[edit]

Old English ǣġhwæþer, from Proto-Germanic, ultimately corresponding to ay + whether. Akin to Old Saxon eogihwethar, iahwethar (Low German jeed); Old Dutch *iogewether, *iowether, *iother (Dutch ieder); Old High German eogihwedar, iegihweder, ieweder (German jeder).

Pronunciation[edit]

  • enPR: īth′ə(r), IPA(key): /ˈaɪð.ə(ɹ)/
  • enPR: ēth′ə(r), IPA(key): /ˈiːð.ə(ɹ)/
  • In the UK, /aɪ/ is used more in Southern England, and /iː/ is more usual in Northern England. However, that is an oversimplification, and the pronunciation used varies by individual speaker and sometimes by situation. In North America, /iː/ is the most common, but /aɪ/ is predominant in some regions.

Determiner[edit]

either

  1. Each of two. [from 9th c.]
    • John Milton (1608-1674)
      His flowing hair / In curls on either cheek played.
    • 1936, Djuna Barnes, Nightwood, Faber & Faber 2007, page 31:
      Her hands, long and beautiful, lay on either side of her face.
  2. One or the other of two. [from 14th c.]
  3. (coordinating) Used before two or more not necessarily exclusive possibilities separated by "or" or sometimes by a comma.
    You'll either be early, late, or on time.
    • 1893, Walter Besant, “Prologue”, in The Ivory Gate:
      Thus, when he drew up instructions in lawyer language [] his clerks [] understood him very well. If he had written a love letter, or a farce, or a ballade, or a story, no one, either clerks, or friends, or compositors, would have understood anything but a word here and a word there.

Synonyms[edit]

  • (one or the other):
  • (each of two): both, each

Translations[edit]

Pronoun[edit]

either

  1. (obsolete) Both, each of two or more.
    • 1485, Sir Thomas Malory, Le Morte d’Arthur, Bk.VII:
      Than ayther departed to theire tentis and made hem redy to horsebacke as they thought beste.
    • Francis Bacon (1561-1626)
      Scarce a palm of ground could be gotten by either of the three.
    • 1590, Edmund Spenser, The Faerie Queene, III.i:
      And either vowd with all their power and wit, / To let not others honour be defaste [].
    • Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr. (1809-1894)
      There have been three talkers in Great British, either of whom would illustrate what I say about dogmatists.
  2. One or other of two people or things.
    • 2013, Daniel Taylor, Danny Welbeck leads England's rout of Moldova but hit by Ukraine ban, The Guardian, 6 September:
      Hodgson may now have to bring in James Milner on the left and, on that basis, a certain amount of gloss was taken off a night on which Welbeck scored twice but barely celebrated either before leaving the pitch angrily complaining to the Slovakian referee.

Adverb[edit]

either ‎(not comparable)

  1. (conjunctive, after a negative) As well.
    I don't like him and I don't like her either.
    • 1959, Georgette Heyer, chapter 1, in The Unknown Ajax:
      But Richmond [] appeared to lose himself in his own reflections. Some pickled crab, which he had not touched, had been removed with a damson pie; and his sister saw [] that he had eaten no more than a spoonful of that either.

Usage notes[edit]

either is sometimes used, especially in North American English, where neither would be more traditionally accurate: "I'm not hungry." "Me either."

Synonyms[edit]

Translations[edit]

Conjunction[edit]

either

  1. Introduces the first of two options, the second of which is introduced by "or".
    Either you eat your dinner or you go to your room.

Translations[edit]

Usage notes[edit]

  • When there are more than two alternatives, "any" is used instead.

See also[edit]

Statistics[edit]

Most common English words before 1923: girl · during · several · #333: either · whether · city · held

Anagrams[edit]