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Or (before). Or in this sense is a corruption of A.-S. œr (Eng. ere), which is found in Early English in the forms er, air, ar, ear, or, eror. “Or (before) he have construed.” ASCH. 95.

As this meaning of or died out, it seems to have been combined with ere for the sake of emphasis. Thus:

“Dying or ere they sicken.

; K. J. v. 6. 44; Temp. v. 1. 103.

We find in E. E. "erst er," "bifore er," "before or" (Mätzner, iii. 451).

Another explanation might be given. Ere has been conjectured to be a corruption of e'er, ever, and "or ever" an emphatic form like "whenever," "wherever." "Ever" is written "ere" in Sonn. 93, 133. And compare "Or ever your pots be made hot with thorns."--Ps. lviii.

Against the latter explanation is the fact that "ever" is much more common than "ere." It is much more likely that "ever" should be substituted for "ere" than "ere" for "ever." For Or . . . or, see 136.

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