one and the other; two together: He met both sisters. Both performances were canceled.
the one as well as the other: Both of us were going to the party.
alike; equally: He is both ready and willing.

1125–75; Middle English bothe, bathe, influenced by Scandinavian (compare Old Norse bāthir both; cognate with German, Dutch beide, Gothic ba tho skipa both (the) ships, Old High German bêde < *bai thai); replacing Middle English bo, ba, Old English bā; cognate with Gothic bai; akin to Latin ambō, Greek ámphō, Lithuanian abù, Sanskrit ubháu Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
both (bəʊθ)
1.  a.  the two; two considered together: both dogs were dirty
 b.  (as pronoun): both are to blame
2.  (coordinating) used preceding words, phrases, or clauses joined by and, used to emphasize that not just one, but also the other of the joined elements is included: both Ellen and Keith enjoyed the play; both new and exciting
[C12: from Old Norse bāthir; related to Old High German bēde, Latin ambō, Greek amphō]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
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Word Origin & History

there are several theories, all similar, and deriving the word from the tendency to say "both the." One is that it is O.E. begen (masc.) "both" (from P.Gmc. *ba, from PIE *bho "both") + -þ extended base. Another traces it to the P.Gmc. formula represented in O.E. by ba þa "both these," from
ba (feminine nominative and accusative of begen) + þa, nominative and accusative plural of se "that." A third traces it to O.N. baðir "both," from *bai thaiz "both the," from P.Gmc. *thaiz, third person plural pronoun. Cf. O.Fris. bethe, Du. beide, O.H.G. beide, Ger. beide, Goth. bajoþs.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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American Heritage
Idioms & Phrases


In addition to the idioms beginning with both, also see best of both worlds; burn the candle at both ends; cut both ways; foot in both camps; have it both ways; play both ends against the middle; work both sides of the street.

The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer.
Copyright © 1997. Published by Houghton Mifflin.
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Example sentences
Sometimes voters even reject both parties on the same day.
We live at a time when friendship has become both all and nothing at all.
The saving grace is that they both want integration as all these actions have
  shown so, sooner or later and the sooner the better.
Both resources are limiting the other-and both may be running short.
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