- without1. Unlike the corresponding physical meaning of within (= inside), the original meaning of without, ‘outside’ (preposition and adverb), is no longer much used, although it will be familiar from literary contexts
• (There is a green hill far away, Without a city wall —Cecil Frances Alexander, 1848
• The throng without was…becoming more numerous and more savage —Macaulay, 1849).The primary current uses are in the sense ‘lacking, not having’ (I came without an umbrella) and governing verbal nouns (She left without saying anything).2. Also defunct is the use of without as a conjunction meaning ‘unless’, ‘except when’, although it still occurs in regional or dialect use and will be found occasionally in modern fiction:
• I can truthfully say he never sat an exam without he was bad with his asthma —Pat Barker, 1991.3.
• How'd you like to make yourself a passel [= parcel] of money without hardly havin' to do any work? —D. Westheimer, 1973.The use of without + hardly, which is a combination of a negative and an implied negative, is non-standard. The standard expression is almost without (or in some contexts, with hardly:
• His eyes flickered to left and right, with hardly a turn of the head —T. Barnes, 1991).
Modern English usage. 2014.