Did "or" meaning gold and "or" meaning "yet/but" come from completely different etymological sources to become the same word, or did they have overlapping roots?

I've always found this word a bit difficult to conceptualize as a conjunction partly because I come from English where or has a prominent and unrelated meaning and partly because it means gold, so it just feels odd. I'm just trying to get a better understanding of it.


1 Answer 1


The word "or" meaning "gold" comes from the Latin word "aurum", while the word "or" meaning "yet/but" comes from the Latin word "hora" ("hour" in English) - the word "or" meant "now" in the past.

  • Hmm, how did "hora" end up being used as "yet/but"? Commented May 29 at 22:00
  • @temporary_user_name I edited my answer adding "the word "or" meant "now" in the past" to explain how "or" eventually meant "yes/but" : "hour" -> "now" -> "yes/but".
    – Bruno
    Commented May 29 at 23:47
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    @temporary_user_name Sorry, it is a typo. I meant: "or" eventually meant "yet/but" : "hour" -> "now" -> "yet/but".
    – Bruno
    Commented May 30 at 0:41
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    @WoJ Je ne m'attendais pas à répondre, or je l'ai fait. (I hadn't expected to reply, yet I did.)
    – jlliagre
    Commented May 30 at 12:49
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    For the semantic development, consider also that now in English is often used, as Wiktionary describes it (adverb, sense 2), “to introduce a point, a qualification of what has previously been said, a remonstration or a rebuke” (as in, “Now, that wasn’t so hard, was it?”. That’s sort of in between a purely temporal meaning and a contrastive meaning like ‘yet’ or ‘but’. Commented May 30 at 13:01

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