Did you know?

Click any word in a definition or example to find the entry for that word

or - definition and synonyms

What are red words?

90% of the time, speakers of English use just 7,500 words in speech and writing. These words appear in red, and are graded with stars. One-star words are frequent, two-star words are more frequent, and three-star words are the most frequent.

Thesaurus diagram

The thesaurus of synonyms and related words is fully integrated into the dictionary. Click on the thesaurus category heading under the button in an entry to see the synonyms and related words for that meaning.

conjunction     or pronunciation in British English
  1. 1
    used for connecting possibilities or choices. In a list, ‘or’ is usually used only before the last possibility or choice

    Which colour do you want – red, green, yellow, or blue?

    He’s probably at lunch or in a meeting.

    either... or:

    ‘When will you get the results?’ ‘Either tomorrow or the day after.’

    whether... or:

    You don’t care whether he lives or dies, do you?

    or not:

    The jury must decide whether the prisoner is guilty or not.

    Synonyms and related words
  2. 2
    used for including someone or something else in a negative statement

    She’s had nothing to eat or drink all day.

    I never had any help or advice from my parents.

    Synonyms and related words
  3. 3
    used between two similar numbers for showing that you do not know what the exact number is
    one or two/two or three/three or four etc:

    I can photocopy your notes. It’ll only take a minute or two.

    The car has to be serviced every five or six thousand miles.

    Synonyms and related words
  4. 4
    used for saying what will happen if someone does not do something

    The soldiers told everyone to leave or they would be shot.

    or else:

    We must deal with the problem now, or else it will be too late.

    You’d better do what I say, or else (=I will do something bad to you).

    Synonyms and related words
  5. 5
    used for introducing a comment that corrects or adds more information to what you have just said

    There are six cashpoints, or ATMs, in the main airport terminal.

    or rather:

    This is a problem for the government, or rather for the Prime Minister, to deal with.

    Synonyms and related words
  6. 6
    used when you are trying to show that something must be true, by saying that the situation would be different if it was not true

    He obviously doesn’t have a plan, or he would have said something.

    or else:

    It must be something serious, or else they wouldn’t have radioed for help.

    Synonyms and related words
  • Facebook
  • Twitter


a lifestyle focussing on simple pleasures such as comfort and cosiness in the home, and spending time with friends and family

BuzzWord Article

Open Dictionary


a form of location that involves the underwater detonation of a bomb which causes sound waves that are picked up by ships

add a word


A must for anyone with an interest in the changing face of language. The Macmillan Dictionary blog explores English as it is spoken around the world today.

global English and language change from our blog
Macmillan learn live love play