from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun Gold, represented in heraldic engraving by a white field sprinkled with small dots.
  • conjunction Before. Followed by ever or ere:
  • preposition Before.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun In heraldry, one of the tinctures — the metal gold, often represented by a yellow color, and in engraving conventionally by dots upon a white ground. See tincture, and cuts under counter-changed and counter-compony.
  • Before; previously; already.
  • Before; ere; sooner than; rather than: as, or this (before this); or long (before long).
  • Before; ere.
  • Sooner than; rather than.
  • Than.
  • Lest.
  • A Middle English form of your.
  • Either; else; otherwise; as an alternative or substitute.
  • There may be several alternatives each joined to the preceding one by or, presenting a choice between any two in the series: as, he may study law or medicine or divinity, or he may enter into trade. The correlations are — Eitheror (in archaic or poetical use also oror).
  • Whetheror (rarely oror), in indirect questions.
  • A conjunction coördinating two or more words or clauses each of which in turn is regarded as an equivalent of the other or others. Thus, we say of a particular diagram that it is a square, or a figure with four equal sides and equal angles.
  • [Or sometimes begins a sentence, in this case expressing an alternative with the foregoing sentence, or merely a transition to some fresh argument or illustration.
  • A Middle English form of her (their).
  • An apparent suffix, the terminus of the suffix -tor, -sor, of Latin origin, forming nouns of agent from verbs.
  • A suffix of some nouns of Latin origin, either abstract, as in odor, horror, terror, honor, etc., or concrete, as in arbor, a tree, etc. It is not felt or used as an English formative.
  • A suffix of Latin origin appearing in comparatives, used in English with a distinct comparative use, as in the adjectives major, minor, junior, senior, prior, but also commonly in nouns, as major, minor, prior, junior, senior, etc. It is not felt or used as an English formative.
  • A termination (apparent suffix) of Latin origin, contracted through Old French from an original Latin -ator.
  • A prefix of Anglo-Saxon origin, appearing unrecognized as a prefix and with no separate significance in ordeal, ort, and a few other words now obsolete.
  • An abbreviation of oriental; of Oregon.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • preposition obsolete Ere; before; sooner than.
  • preposition See under Ever, and Ere.
  • conjunction A particle that marks an alternative. It corresponds to either. It often connects a series of words or propositions, presenting a choice of either.
  • noun (Her.) Yellow or gold color, -- represented in drawing or engraving by small dots.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • conjunction Connects at least two alternative words, phrases, clauses, sentences, etc. each of which could make a passage true. In English, this is the "inclusive or." The "exclusive or" is formed by "either...or".
  • conjunction Logical union of two sets of values. There are two forms, an exclusive or and an inclusive or.
  • conjunction Counts the elements before and after as two possibilities.
  • conjunction otherwise; a consequence of the condition that the previous is false
  • conjunction Connects two equivalent names.
  • noun heraldry The gold or yellow tincture on a coat of arms.
  • adjective heraldry Of gold or yellow tincture on a coat of arms.
  • adverb obsolete Early (on).
  • adverb obsolete Earlier, previously.
  • preposition Before; ere.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • noun a room in a hospital equipped for the performance of surgical operations
  • noun a state in northwestern United States on the Pacific


from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

[Middle English, from Old French, from Latin aurum.]

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

[Middle English, variant of er, from Old English ǣr, soon, early, and from Old Norse ār; see ayer- in Indo-European roots.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

Old English oþþe.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Old French or ("yellow"), from Latin aurum ("gold")

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

Late Old English ār, from Scandinavian (compare Old Norse ár). Compare ere.


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  • a very useful conjunction indeed. Also used in medieval heraldry to indicate the color gold.

    February 4, 2007

  • Are you sure this is the spelling? In Latin, gold is "aurum" and in spanish, "oro", so this is probably a bastardized version of those.

    February 5, 2007

  • In heraldry, it's or. My understanding is many medieval heraldry terms were bastardized from middle French.

    Here's what the OED says:

    Etymology: derived from Anglo-Norman and Middle French, French or gold (9th cent. in Old French, earliest in fig. sense ‘wealth, riches’), derived from classical Latin aurum gold (see AURO-).

    1. Gold (the metallic element). Obs. rare.

    1437 Rolls of Parl. IV. 503/2 It be lefull to the Maire and Citezeins of ye Citee of shipp..lx sakkes of Wolle, withoute any Subsidee of the said v Nobles of or.

    2. Heraldry. Gold or yellow in armorial blazoning. One of the two metals, the other being argent.

    February 5, 2007

  • It's hard to find a good citation for 'or' as a verb, but Googling produces quite a few cases of 'ORed together' or 'OR'd together'—as in, having the logical operator applied to make a combination.

    July 24, 2008

  • In computer science, a logical operator often expressed as a pipe character ("|"), two pipe characters, or the string literal "or".

    November 8, 2008