Unless
Unless Un*less", conj. [Formerly, onles, onlesse, onlesse that, that is, in less, in a less case. See {On}, and {Less}.] Upon any less condition than (the fact or thing stated in the sentence or clause which follows); if not; supposing that not; if it be not; were it not that; except; as, we shall fail unless we are industrious. [1913 Webster]

Note: By the omission of the verb in the dependent clause, unless was frequently used prepositionally, -- a construction common in Shakespeare and still employed colloquially. [1913 Webster]

Here nothing breeds unless the nightly owl. --Shak. [1913 Webster]


The Collaborative International Dictionary of English. 2000.

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  • unless — [un les′] conj. [ME onlesse, earlier on lesse that, in lesse that, at less than, for less] in any case other than that; except that; except if [unless it rains, the game will be played] prep. except; save [nothing can help him, unless a miracle] …   English World dictionary

  • unless — preposition except, excepting, however, precluding, save, without Burton s Legal Thesaurus. William C. Burton. 2006 …   Law dictionary

  • unless — mid 15c., earlier onlesse, from on lesse (than) on a less condition (than), the first syllable originally on, but the negative connotation and the lack of stress changed it to un …   Etymology dictionary

  • unless — ► CONJUNCTION ▪ except when; if not. ORIGIN from ON(Cf. ↑on) or IN(Cf. ↑in) + LESS(Cf. ↑less) …   English terms dictionary

  • unless — un|less W1S1 [ʌnˈles, ən ] conj [Date: 1400 1500; Origin: on less than on a lower condition than (1400 1500)] 1.) used to say that something will happen or be true if something else does not happen or is not true ▪ Unless some extra money is… …   Dictionary of contemporary English

  • unless — conjunction used when one thing will only happen or be true as long as another thing happens or is true: Milk quickly turns sour unless it s refrigerated. | Unless some extra money is found, the theatre will close. USAGE NOTE: UNLESS WORD CHOICE …   Longman dictionary of contemporary English

  • unless — un|less [ ən les ] conjunction *** used for saying that if something does not happen, something else will happen or be true as a result: I can t help you unless you tell me what s wrong. The car should be in the garage unless someone s moved it.… …   Usage of the words and phrases in modern English

  • unless */*/*/ — UK [ənˈles] / US conjunction used for saying that if something does not happen, something else will happen or be true as a result I can t help you unless you tell me what s wrong. The car should be in the garage unless someone s moved it. Unless… …   English dictionary

  • Unless — infobox Book | name = Unless title orig = translator = author = Carol Shields cover artist = country = Canada language = English series = genre = Novel publisher = Harper Collins release date = April 30, 2002 media type = Print (Hardback… …   Wikipedia

  • unless — [[t]ʌnle̱s[/t]] ♦♦ CONJ SUBORD You use unless to introduce the only circumstances in which an event you are mentioning will not take place or in which a statement you are making is not true. Unless you are trying to lose weight to please yourself …   English dictionary

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