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American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright © 2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

[Middle English, variant of, from Old English, and from Old Norse; see ayer- in Indo-European roots .]

“I doubt he will be dead or ere I come”

Before. Followed by ever or ere: “I doubt he will be dead or ere I come” (Shakespeare).

When all the elements in a series connected byare singular, the verb they govern is singular:When all the elements are plural, the verb is plural. When the elements do not agree in number, some grammarians have suggested that the verb should agree in number with the nearest element:Other grammarians, however, have argued that such constructions are inherently illogical and that the only solution is to revise the sentence to avoid the problem of agreement:See Usage Notes at and/or

[Middle English, from other , or (from Old English, from oththe ) and from outher (from Old English āhwæther, āther ; see either ).]

3. Used to indicate uncertainty or indefiniteness: two or three.

2. Used to indicate a synonymous or equivalent expression: acrophobia, or fear of great heights.

c. Archaic Used to indicate the first of two alternatives, with the force of either or whether.

Your answer is either ingenious or wrong. I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry.

b. Used to indicate the second of two alternatives, the first being preceded by either or whether: Your answer is either ingenious or wrong. I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry.

hot or cold; this, that, or the other.

a. Used to indicate an alternative, usually only before the last term of a series: hot or cold; this, that, or the other.

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A logical operator that returns a true value if one or both operands are true.

[Old English ār soon; related to Old Norse ār early, Old High German ēr ]

( subordinating; foll by ever or ere ) before; when

[C13: contraction of other, used to introduce an alternative, changed (through influence of either) from Old English oththe; compare Old High German odar (German oder )]

6. a poetic word for either or whether as the first element in correlatives, with or also preceding the second alternative

4. one or two a few

either yes or no

whether it rains or not we’ll be there

3. used to join two alternatives when the first is preceded by either or whether : whether it rains or not we’ll be there ; either yes or no .

to serve in the army, or rather to fight in the army

2. used to join rephrasings of the same thing: to serve in the army, or rather to fight in the army ; twelve, or a dozen .

1. used to join alternatives: apples or pears ; apples or pears or cheese ; apples, pears, or cheese .

or1

(ɔr; ər)

1. (used to connect words, phrases, or clauses representing alternatives):

to be or not to be.

2. (used to connect alternative terms for the same thing):

the Hawaiian, or Sandwich, Islands.

3. (used in correlation):

Either we go now or wait till tomorrow.

4. (used to correct or rephrase what was previously said):

His autobiography, or rather memoirs, will be published soon.

5. otherwise; or else:

Be here on time, or we’ll leave without you.

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6. the connective used in disjunction.

1, whether]

[1150–1200; Middle English; compare ay

usage: See and/or, either.

or2

(ɔr)

before; ere.

[before 950; Middle English, Old English soon]

or3

(ɔr)

the heraldic color yellow or gold.

[1400–50; late Middle English < Middle French < Latin gold]

OR

(ɔr)

a Boolean operator that returns a positive result when either or both operands are positive.

[1940–45]

OR

1. operating room.

2. operations research.

3. Oregon.

-or1

, 4 (); a few other words that orig. ended in different suffixes have been assimilated to this group ().

a suffix occurring in loanwords from Latin, directly or through Anglo-French, usu. denoting a condition or property of things or persons, sometimes corresponding to qualitative adjectives ending in -id ); a few other words that orig. ended in different suffixes have been assimilated to this group ().

[< Latin; in some cases continuing Middle English < Anglo-French, Old French < Latin s. of earlier ]

usage: The spelling of the suffix 1 is characteristic of American English, with occasional exceptions. In British English is still the most common spelling, often being retained when certain suffixes are added, as in ation, ary, and ious. The English of Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa tends to mirror British practice, whereas Canadian English is about equally divided between U.S. and British forms.―The suffix 2 is now spelled in all forms of English, except for the word once often spelled in the U.S. as in Britain, esp. with reference to Jesus. But the official spelling of Catholics, Episcopalians, Presbyterians, and Methodists is now saviour is now only British.

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Thespelling of the suffix -or is characteristic of American English, with occasional exceptions. In British Englishis still the most common spelling,often being retained when certain suffixes are added, as ination,ary, andious. The English of Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa tends to mirror British practice, whereas Canadian English is about equally divided between U.S. and British forms.―The suffix -or is now spelledin all forms of English, except for the wordonce often spelledin the U.S. as in Britain, esp. with reference to Jesus. But the official spelling of Catholics, Episcopalians, Presbyterians, and Methodists is now savior is now only British.

-or2

, ); it now functions in English as an orthographic variant of 1, usu. joined to bases of Latin origin, in imitation of borrowed Latin words containing the suffix ). Resultant formations often denote machines or less tangible entities that behave in an agentlike way:

projector; repressor; sensor; tractor.

a suffix forming animate or inanimate agent nouns, occurring orig. in loanwords from Anglo-French (); it now functions in English as an orthographic variant of -er , usu. joined to bases of Latin origin, in imitation of borrowed Latin words containing the suffix -tor (and alternant). Resultant formations often denote machines or less tangible entities that behave in an agentlike way:

< Latin ; compare

[Middle English < Anglo-French, Old French< Latin; compare -eur

usage: See 1.

See -or

Random House Kernerman Webster’s College Dictionary, © 2010 K Dictionaries Ltd. Copyright 2005, 1997, 1991 by Random House, Inc. All rights reserved.

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