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3 . in other respects ⇒ an otherwise hopeless situation

Collins English Dictionary

What does "in other respects" mean? In the end, is the situation hopeless or not?

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It might be easier to understand if you read "in other respects" as "in other ways".

Here is a real use of an otherwise hopeless situation from Wikipedia,

"She showed to the judge that Roland agreed to this and in return was to marry her for his release out of an otherwise hopeless situation of being imprisoned for the rest of his life."

This hopeless situation refers to the situation that Roland must be imprisoned for the rest of his life. The situation would become an otherwise hopeless situation once Roland agreed to [this] and was to marry [her] for his release.

In the end, the situation was not a hopeless one. But if Roland chose otherwise, it would be hopeless.

  • I still need some more clarification: When using "otherwise" in this sense, two outcomes are usually present and the "otherwise" one is an outcome that is more severe, larger in magnitude than the other one, unless certain things happen or decision is made? – user49119 Dec 7 '13 at 6:23
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    The "otherwise" one doesn't have to always be more severe. Consider "He could have an otherwise happy life if he chose to work for himself," it's clear that in speaker's opinion, his life is not as good as it could be. I usually think of the "otherwise" one as an "imaginary" alternative. – Damkerng T. Dec 7 '13 at 6:29
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    @user49 - The "otherwise" in an otherwise hopeless situation suggests there is some way out of the hopelessness. Remove that trap door, though, and the situation becomes truly hopeless. Think of being stranded in a desert, but there's an oasis a few kilometers away. Without that oasis, it's a hopeless situation. With the oasis, though, there's cause for hope – provided you start moving in the right direction. – J.R. Dec 7 '13 at 8:25

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