1. Other; different: Ask somebody else.
2. Additional; more: Would you like anything else?
In a different or additional time, place, or manner: I always do it this way and I don't know how else it could be done. Where else do you want to go besides Miami?
1. Used to indicate an alternative: We need to eat the leftovers or else buy more food.
2. Used to indicate negative consequences that will result if an action is not followed: We need to pay the bill, or else the electricity will be shut off.
3. Used after a command or demand to make a threat: Be there on time, or else!
[Middle English elles, from Old English; see al-1 in the Appendix of Indo-European roots.]
Usage Note: Else is often used redundantly in combination with prepositions such as but, except, and besides. The sentence No one else but Sam saw the accident would thus be better without else. · When a pronoun is followed by else, the possessive form is generally written with the 's following else: That must be someone else's (not someone's else) book. Both who else's and whose else are in use, but not whose else's: Who else's book could it have been? Whose else could it have been? · Sometimes the or is dropped from or else so that else functions as a conjunction, as in George Eliot's "My brother is poor, and I want to look as much like him as I can, else he may feel distant from me." This usage is rare in Standard American English, however, and sounds informal or dialectal. See Usage Note at who.
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2022 by HarperCollins Publishers. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.