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What is the meaning of “or” in Italian? I thought “or” was an abbreviation for “ora”, but that doesn’t seem to always fit. For example, many bible verses begin with “Or” such as:

Genesis 6:11 Or la terra era corrotta davanti a Dio; la terra era piena di violenza

But English translations usually give “And” for this word. Or, consider the following where it’s “or ora” — would that be “now now”?

Matthew 9:18 Mentre egli diceva loro queste cose, uno dei capi della sinagoga, avvicinatosi, s'inchinò davanti a lui e gli disse: «Mia figlia è morta or ora; ma vieni, posa la mano su di lei ed ella vivrà».

I’ve gathered that “or ora” means “just now” or “right now” — for example:

https://tatoeba.org/eng/sentences/search?query=%3Dor&from=ita&to=eng

I’ve tried looking up “or” in WordReference, Reverso, Linguee without much help.

  • Welcome to Italian.SE! – Charo Dec 27 '19 at 18:39
  • «I’ve tried looking up “or” in WordReference, Reverso, Linguee without much help»: More candidates for my “non-resources” petty project... :) – DaG Dec 27 '19 at 20:05
  • @DaG I am not familiar with Reverso and Linguee, but in general I don't find Wordreference that bad. The dictionaries seem reasonably good, and the forums often contain good advice. – Federico Poloni Dec 27 '19 at 20:38
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It is just a truncated form of ora.

óra¹ (tronc. ór) avv.

In your first example, it is used with meaning 2b from that link, i.e., as a generic link word to continue a story.

b. In principio di frase, ha spesso valore di congiunzione e serve a riprendere il filo del racconto o a passare a un’altra parte di questo

In your second example, as you already correctly assessed, or ora means just now.

I suggest you to add the Treccani dictionary to your list of go-to online references. A good monolingual dictionary is harder to read than a bilingual one, but often it is more detailed.

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  • Thank you. I appreciate your advice regarding Treccani. I struggle to understand it, but probably need to try more. Although I'm just a beginner in Italian, I really want a quality reference to help me learn the finer points. I haven't been able to find any high quality bilingual resources available for an iPhone. Maybe it doesn't exist and I just need to follow your advice. – Tony M Dec 27 '19 at 20:18
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I'll summarize what is said by "Accademia della Crusca" which is another respectable source to find the meaning of Italian words. They basically say that some word spreaded according to geographical locations or different way of comunications. To express the concept of "in this moment" ("in questo momento") Italian poets have substituted the word "nunc" from Latin, with some variants like "ora, mo, adesso". As said, these abbreviations are used differently in different regions and could be combined. Some special form were lucky enough to be used nowadays like synonymous of "now" such in the cases "mo ora", "or ora". Thus, their usage depends on a multitude of things. Personally if I would translate in English the two sentences they would be:

  1. "Now earth was corrupted in front of God";
  2. "Meanwhile he said to them these things, one understood about the synagogue, close to him, bowed in front of him and said: 'my my daughter is died right now (right in this moment); but come here, put your hand on her and she'll live".

The last sentence lets understand that the moment is very close, so you could still see what happened. Therefore the repetition "or ora" is used to reinforce the concept of "now". The first phrase instead is more generic, "now" could refer to "from now on".

I hope this is useful and I apologize if I made some mistakes in English.

Sources:

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  • Welcome to Italian.SE! – Charo Dec 31 '19 at 13:54
  • Thank you for providing another source to find the meaning of Italian Words. I've added it to my list, but as I mentioned, I'd prefer to have a quality bilingual site to help me right now since my Italian is probably B1 (at best). The page you referenced also helped me appreciate that ‘in questo momento’ is not such a simple subject, especially with all the different versions of "Italian". – Tony M Dec 31 '19 at 15:50

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