When talking to (english) programmers especially, the use of 'xor' for a choice between two mutually exclusive options as opposed to or for non-mutually exclusive orders comes up a lot.

I could say Exklusiv oder, though I'm not sure how well it is likely to be received by the average person. Meanwhile my German is far too poor to explain the concept. I wondered if German being a more compound language allowed for a simple translation (or made up word, that could be rapidly and easily understood by a native speaker)

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    I have seen Exklusiv-Oder, but as a general, non-IT concept I would call it entweder ... oder ... (either ... or ...) to indicate it can't be both. Dec 19, 2018 at 17:43
  • @RudyVelthuis: I agree, even though "entweder ... oder" is also used in phrases like "entweder A oder B oder beide". Dec 19, 2018 at 18:04
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    @O.R.Mapper: well yes, but then the entweder ... oder ... part is the exclusive-or part (false with true, true with false), and the rest is the (true with true = both) part that an inclusive-or also has. Dec 19, 2018 at 18:24
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    Don't forget the famour ent oder weder. Dec 19, 2018 at 23:26
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    @O.R.Mapper: that is not my impression. Most people simply use "oder" for the inclusive form and "entweder oder" for the exclusive form, in my experience. IOW, as soon as the word "entweder" is used, it becomes exclusive. I hardly ever encounter "entweder oder oder beide". That sounds, dunno... rather artificial. Dec 20, 2018 at 8:14

4 Answers 4


The average person will use entweder … oder …. Or nothing special because oder is understood as exclusive in most situations.

A oder B oder beide — OR

entweder A oder B — XOR

A oder B — mostly XOR, sometimes OR.

There aren't any widely understood abbreviations.

  • Hmmm... had exactly the same idea. <g> Dec 19, 2018 at 17:44
  • "Or nothing special because oder is understood as exclusive in most situations." In that case is there an alternative which will be understood as two options which are not mutually exclusive.
    – user80753
    Dec 19, 2018 at 18:48
  • You have to add oder beide or oder mehrere for more than two options then.
    – Janka
    Dec 19, 2018 at 18:53
  • Wenn klar ist, dass nur entweder/oder gemeint sein kann, dann braucht man offensichtlich keinen klärenden Term. Daraus folgt, dass sich die Frage auf uneindeutige Fälle beziehen muss. Dec 20, 2018 at 2:24

This isn’t widely understood terminology, but in the philosophy class »Logik und Argumentationstheorie«, we used the Latin words:

  • vel (symbol: v) for OR (nicht-ausschließendes / inklusives Oder)
  • aut (symbol: v with a dot on top) for the mutually exclusive XOR (Kontravalenz; ausschließende Disjunktion)

entweder .. oder ... is the closest idea in every day language, but if you want to express this in IT terminology without risking misunderstanding you have to use exklusives oder or the english expression.


In German, it is ususal to use "und/oder". Thats even known by the Duden:


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