Definition of otherwise in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈʌðəwʌɪz/


1In circumstances different from those present or considered; or else: the collection is a good draw that brings visitors who might not come otherwise I’m not motivated by money, otherwise I would have quit
More example sentences
  • However, some families are calling a halt to the festive excesses and donating money otherwise spent on cards or presents to a good cause.
  • These have increased as the US downturn deepened, with subsidiaries in Ireland sending more money back than otherwise would have been the case.
  • According to the new regulation, I need to visit the police office to hand in the money; otherwise the fine will be 30,000 RMB.
or else, or, if not
2In other respects; apart from that: an otherwise totally black cat with a single white whisker
More example sentences
  • Our lanky cat, who is two years old and in all respects healthy otherwise, is very skinny.
  • But what it is doing is totally alienating otherwise law-abiding citizens and turning them into criminals.
  • He seemed totally normal otherwise and expected me to be as well.
in other respects, in other ways, apart from that
3In a different way: he means mischief—it’s no good pretending otherwise all the staff were otherwise engaged
More example sentences
  • The mental health specialists at the university health service were apparently otherwise engaged.
  • Nothing gets to me more than being made to wait for attention from someone who is being paid to attend to me but is otherwise engaged in a trivial personal conversation or task.
  • It would be difficult to swallow that all those officials in any one club would be otherwise engaged on the same evening.
differently, in any other way
3.1As an alternative: the Cosa Nostra, otherwise known as the Brotherhood
More example sentences
  • These power stations are naturally being promoted as green alternatives, otherwise known as biomass.
  • Possibly what the radio of the future will be like: downloadable programmes that can be listened to at your leisure, otherwise known as podcasting.
  • Shrove Tuesday otherwise known as Pancake Day prompted Saturday Breakfast to focus our regular How To? segment on making the perfect pancake.


In a different state or situation: I would that it were otherwise


or (or and) otherwise

Indicating the opposite of or a contrast to something stated: we don’t want a president, elected or otherwise
More example sentences
  • Possession or otherwise of an ID card would make not the slightest difference.
  • I haven't seen either show yet, so I will not comment on their respective merits or otherwise.
  • I am yet to meet a man, in a partnership or otherwise, who doesn't exert total domination of this device.


Old English on ōthre wisan (see other, wise2).

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: other|wise

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