- one or the other of two: You may sit at either end of the table.
- each of two; the one and the other: There are trees on either side of the river.
- one or the other: There are two roads into the town, and you can take either. Either will do.
- (a coordinating conjunction that, when preceding a word or statement followed by the disjunctive or, serves to emphasize the possibility of choice): Either come or write.
- also; too; as well; to the same degree (used after negative clauses coordinated by and, or, or nor, or after negative subordinate clauses): He's not fond of parties, and I'm not either. If you don't come, she won't come either.
Origin of either
As an adjective either refers only to two of anything: either side of the river; using either hand. As a pronoun either sometimes occurs in reference to more than two ( either of the three children ), but any is more common in this construction ( any of the three children ). As a conjunction, either often introduces a series of more than two: The houses were finished with either cedar siding or stucco or brick. The pizza is topped with either anchovies, green peppers, or mushrooms.
Usage guides say that the verb used with subjects joined by the correlative conjunctions either … or (or neither … nor ) is singular or plural depending on the number of the noun or pronoun nearer the verb: Either the parents or the school determines the program. Either the school or the parents determine the program. Practice in this matter varies, however, and often the presence of one plural, no matter what its position, results in a plural verb: Either the parents or the school determine the program.
In carefully edited writing, these correlative conjunctions are usually placed so that what follows the first correlative is parallel to what follows the second: The damage was done by either the wind or vandals or either by the wind or by vandals (not done either by the wind or vandals). See also neither.
Examples from the Web for either
Harris is unlikely to see a challenge from Villaraigosa, either.The Golden State Preps for the ‘Red Wedding’ of Senate Races
January 9, 2015
Despite the strong language, however, the neither the JPO nor Lockheed could dispute a single fact in either Daily Beast report.Pentagon Misfires in Stealth Jet Scandal
January 8, 2015
Several times, either because they forgot or they had a technical problem, they connected directly, and we could see them.Was Sony Hit With a Second Hack?
January 8, 2015
The decision not to run the cartoons is motivated by nothing more than fear: either fear of offending or fear of retaliation.Why We Stand With Charlie Hebdo—And You Should Too
January 8, 2015
And finally, this is who most of our political press is—gullible enough to be surprised by either of the first two.Today’s GOP: Still Cool With Racist Pandering?
January 7, 2015
So small was it that to have gone a few feet to either side would have been to miss it.The Spenders
Harry Leon Wilson
Young Sparrow must either starve or ask his neighbor to help him with a loan.Ancient Man
Hendrik Willem van Loon
Hawarden is called a Castle, but it has not, either in its exterior or interior, the aspect of a Castle.The Grand Old Man
Richard B. Cook
For, Madam, could I be supposed to govern the passions of either of the gentlemen?Clarissa, Volume 1 (of 9)
It is only in poetry that Cupid is more powerful than either Mammon or Mars.
- one or the other (of two)either coat will do
- (as pronoun)either is acceptable
- both one and the otherthere were ladies at either end of the table
- (coordinating) used preceding two or more possibilities joined by "or"you may have either cheese or a sweet
- (used with a negative) used to indicate that the clause immediately preceding is a partial reiteration of a previous clauseJohn isn't a liar, but he isn't exactly honest either
Word Origin and History for either
Cognate with Dutch ieder, Old High German eogiwedar, German jeder "either, each, every"). Modern sense of "one or the other of two" is late 13c. Use of either-or to suggest an unavoidable choice between alternatives (1931) in some cases reflects Danish enten-eller, title of an 1843 book by Kierkegaard.