Definition for NEI'THER

NEI'THER, n. [Compound pronoun, pronominal adjective, or a substitute. Sax. nather, nathor, nauther, or nouther; ne, not, and either or other, not either, or not other. So L. neuter, ne and uter.]

  1. Not either; not the one or the other.
  2. It refers to individual things or persons; as, which road shall I take? Neither, take neither road. The upright judge inclines to neither party. It is used as a substitute; as, the upright judge incline to neither of the parties. He neither loves, / Nor either cares for him. Shak.
  3. It refers to a sentence; as, “ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it.” That is, ye shall not eat, not either or other shall ye touch it; ye shall not eat, nor shall ye do the other thing here mentioned, that is, touch it. Gen. iii. “Fight neither with small nor great, save only with the king;” that is, fight not, either with small or great. 1 Kings xxii. Neither, in the first part of a negative sentence, is followed by nor, in the subsequent part. It is neither the one nor the other. But or would be most proper, for the negative in neither, applies to both parts of the sentence. It is often used in the last member of a negative sentence instead of nor, as in the passage above cited. “Ye shall not eat it, neither shall ye touch it.” Here neither is improperly used for nor, for not in the first clause refers only to that clause, and the second negative refers only to the second clause. “Ye shall not eat it, nor shall ye touch it.” In the sentences above, neither is considered to be a conjunction or connecting word, though in fact it is a pronoun or representative of a clause of a sentence.
  4. Neither primarily refers to two; not either of two. But by usage it is applicable to any number, referring to individuals separately considered. Five or ten persons being charged with a misdemeanor or riot, each may say, neither of us was present.
  5. Neither sometimes closes a sentence in a peculiar manner, thus, “Men come not to the knowledge of ideas thought to be innate, till they come to the use of reason; nor then neither-” Locke. That is, not either when they come to the use of reason, or before. Formerly, in English, as in Greek and French, two negatives were used for one negation. But in such phrases as that above, good speakers now use either; “nor then either.”

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