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See also: eiþer




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: īth′ə(r), ēth′ə(r), IPA(key): /ˈaɪð.ə(ɹ)/, /ˈiːð.ə(ɹ)/
  • Rhymes: -aɪðə(ɹ), -iːðə(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.



  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.


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




  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.


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 notesEdit

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


Usage notesEdit

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

See alsoEdit


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