or - definition and synonyms


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  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