From Middle English either, from Old English ǣġhwæþer, from Proto-Germanic, ultimately corresponding to ay (“always, ever”) + 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).
- enPR: ī′thə(r), ē′thə(r) IPA(key): /ˈaɪ.ðə(ɹ)/, /ˈiː.ðə(ɹ)/
- Rhymes: -aɪðə(ɹ), -iːðə(ɹ)
- (obsolete (in use until the 20th c.)) enPR: ā′thə(r) IPA(key): /ˈeɪ.ðə(ɹ)/
- In the UK, /aɪ/ is used more in Southern England, and /iː/ is more usual in Northern England. In North America, /iː/ is the most common, but /aɪ/ is predominant in some regions. Note that even if one pronunciation is more common in a region, the pronunciation used varies by individual speaker and sometimes by situation. /eɪ/ was once heard in Northern England, but has now largely fallen into disuse.
- Any one (of two).
- You can have it in either colour.
- Each of two; both. [from 9th c.]
- There is a locomotive at either end of the train, one pulling and the other pushing.
- (now rare) Any one (of more than two).
- 1748, [Samuel Richardson], “Letter LI”, in Clarissa. Or, The History of a Young Lady: […], volume (please specify |volume=I to VII), London: […] S[amuel] Richardson; […], OCLC 13631815:
- They entreat, they pray, they beg, they supplicate (will either of these do, Miss Clary?) that you will make no scruple to go to your uncle Antony's […] .
- When there are more than two alternatives, in the sense of “one of many”, any is now generally used instead.
- One or the other of two people or things.
- He made me two offers, but I did not accept either.
- 2013 September 7, Daniel Taylor, “Danny Welbeck leads England's rout of Moldova but hit by Ukraine ban”, in The Guardian:
- (obsolete) Both, each of two or more.
- a. 1627 (date written), Francis [Bacon], “Considerations Touching a VVarre vvith Spaine. […]”, in William Rawley, editor, Certaine Miscellany VVorks of the Right Honourable Francis Lo. Verulam, Viscount S. Alban. […], London: […] I. Hauiland for Humphrey Robinson, […], published 1629, OCLC 557721855:
- Scarce a palm of ground could be gotten by either of the three.
- 1872, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr., The Poet at the Breakfast-Table
- There have been three famous talkers in Great British, either of whom would illustrate what I say about dogmatists.
either (not comparable)
- (conjunctive, after a negative) As well.
- I don't like him, and I don't like her either.
- I know a cheap Spanish restaurant. It's not far from here, either.
After a positive statement, too is commonly used: “I like him, and I like her too.”
- Introduces the first of two (or occasionally more) options or possibilities, the second (or last) of which is introduced by “or”.
- Either you eat your dinner or you go to your room.
- You can have either potatoes or rice with that, but not both.
- You'll be either 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.
- The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout § Translations.
- ^ "Pronunciation: Either". Reader's Digest. (1964). The Complete Atlas of the British Isles, p. 123.