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|David Freedlander|January 9, 2015|DAILY BEAST
Despite the strong language, however, the neither the JPO nor Lockheed could dispute a single fact in either Daily Beast report.
Several times, either because they forgot or they had a technical problem, they connected directly, and we could see them.
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|John Avlon|January 8, 2015|DAILY BEAST
And finally, this is who most of our political press is—gullible enough to be surprised by either of the first two.
All the honours which a physician can possess I either enjoy, or have refused when they were offered to me.Jerome Cardan|William George Waters
Like rats, mice appear to act in companies, either under leadership or by common consent.Natural History in Anecdote|Various
Her father was uneasy about her; he feared she was either ill or unhappy, and consulted his sensible old mother.The Gold that Glitters|Emily Sarah Holt
Young British officers were either cool or, much worse, patronising.Love Stories|Mary Roberts Rinehart
The man looked confusedly up and down, to either hand, and was silent.Sir Jasper Carew|Charles James Lever
British Dictionary definitions for either
- one or the other (of two)either coat will do
- (as pronoun)either is acceptable
adverb (sentence modifier)
Word Origin for 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.