- Each of two. [from 9th c.]
- One or the other of two. [from 14th c.]
- ( obsolete ) Both, each of two ( people or things ).
- One or other of two people or things .
In the UK the first pronunciation is generally used more in southern England, while the latter is more usual in northern England. However, this is an oversimplification, and the pronunciation used varies by individual speaker and sometimes by situation. The first pronunciation is the most common in the United States .
Explanation of either by Wordnet Dictionary
- Either ( ēthẽr or īthẽr; 277 ), a. & pron. [OE. either, aither, AS. ǣgðer, ǣghwæðer ( akin to OHG. ēogiwedar, MHG. iegeweder ); ā + ge + hwæðer whether. See Each, and Whether, and cf. Or, conj.]
1. One of two; the one or the other; -- properly used of two things, but sometimes of a larger number, for any one.
Lepidus flatters both,
Of both is flattered; but he neither loves,
Nor either cares for him. Shak.
Scarce a palm of ground could be gotten by either of the three. Bacon.
There have been three talkers in Great British, either of whom would illustrate what I say about dogmatists. Holmes.
2. Each of two; the one and the other; both; -- formerly, also, each of any number.
His flowing hair
In curls on either cheek played. Milton.
On either side . . . was there the tree of life. Rev. xxii. 2.
The extreme right and left of either army never engaged. Jowett ( Thucyd ).
- Either, conj. Either precedes two, or more, coördinate words or phrases, and is introductory to an alternative. It is correlative to or.
Either he is talking, or he is pursuing, or he is in a journey, or peradventure he sleepeth. 1 Kings xviii. 27.
Few writers hesitate to use either in what is called a triple alternative; such as, We must either stay where we are, proceed, or recede. Latham.
☞ Either was formerly sometimes used without any correlation, and where we should now use or.
Can the fig tree, my brethren, bear olive berries? either a vine, figs? James iii. 12.
Definition of either by GCIDE Dictionary