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[els] /ɛls/
other than the persons or things mentioned or implied:
What else could I have done?
in addition to the persons or things mentioned or implied:
Who else was there?
other or in addition (used in the possessive following an indefinite pronoun):
someone else's money.
if not (usually preceded by or):
It's a macaw, or else I don't know birds.
in some other way; otherwise:
How else could I have acted?
at some other place or time:
Where else might I find this book?
or else, or suffer the consequences:
Do what I say, or else.
Origin of else
before 1000; Middle English, Old English elles (cognate with Old High German elles), equivalent to ell- other (cognate with Gothic aljis, Latin alius, Old Irish aile Greek állos, Armenian ayl other; cf. eldritch) + -es -s1
Usage note
The possessive forms of somebody else, everybody else, etc., are somebody else's, everybody else's, the forms somebody's else, everybody's else being considered nonstandard in present-day English. One exception is the possessive for who else, which is occasionally formed as whose else when a noun does not immediately follow: Is this book yours? Whose else could it be? No, it's somebody else's. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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British Dictionary definitions for or else


determiner (postpositive; used after an indefinite pronoun or an interrogative)
in addition; more: there is nobody else here
other; different: where else could he be?
or else
  1. if not, then: go away or else I won't finish my work today
  2. or something terrible will result: used as a threat: sit down, or else!
Word Origin
Old English elles, genitive of el- strange, foreign; related to Old High German eli- other, Gothic alja, Latin alius, Greek allos
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for or else



Old English elles "other, otherwise, different," from Proto-Germanic *aljaz (cf. Gothic aljis "other," Old High German eli-lenti, Old English el-lende, both meaning "in a foreign land;" see also Alsace), an adverbial genitive of the neuter of PIE root *al- "beyond" (cf. Greek allos "other," Latin alius; see alias). Synonym of other, the nuances of usage are often arbitrary.

Productive of a number of handy compounds that somehow never got traction or have been suffered to fall from use: elsehow (1660s) "somehow or other;" elsewards (adv.), 1882, "somewhere else;" Old English elsewhat (pron.) " something else, anything else;" elsewhen (adv.), early 15c., "at another time; elsewhence (c.1600); elsewho (1540s). Among the survivors are elsewhere, elsewise.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Slang definitions & phrases for or else

or else

preposition phrase

Otherwise; or this unhappy thing will follow •Used at the end of a command or warning to encourage compliance: Get that damn thing out of here or else (1833+)


Related Terms

or else

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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Idioms and Phrases with or else

or else

Otherwise, in different circumstances, as in Present your case now, or else you won't have a chance. [ c. 1300 ]
Regardless of any extenuating circumstances, no matter what, as in Be there on time or else! [ Second half of 1800s ]
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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