Definition of nil in English:



  • Nothing, especially as the score in certain games; zero.

    ‘they beat us three-nil’
    • ‘They were winning by eight points to nil until Ronan Conway scored the only goal of the game well into injury time.’
    • ‘They won by four goals to nil, with two goals scored in either half.’
    • ‘Although he played a very strong opponent he put up a strong fight but lost 2 games to nil.’
    • ‘Anyway, they beat us by one goal to nil scored by Roberto Carlos in the first half.’
    • ‘Ballina led 9 - nil at half-time having played with the wind.’
    • ‘The losers led by three points to nil at the change of ends, all of their scores coming from the boot of ace marksman John Sheehan.’
    • ‘Michael Conroy made it two nil with a fine opportunistic point from play after gathering a Damian Munnelly free.’
    • ‘We've been here half an hour already and there's been absolutely nil.’
    • ‘The Academy started brightly and lead by two points to nil after five minutes.’
    • ‘A player who wanted to bid nil would do so at their turn to bid.’
    • ‘She played a starring role for the team in their recent 1 - nil win over Iceland.’
    • ‘The under 16 boys lost three nil to Wexford Albion in the league.’
    • ‘After the home side led at the break by a goal to nil, the visitors scored two early goals at the start of the second half to put them in the driving seat.’
    • ‘The reason I bring the story of Hectors bravery to the fore is because I have none, nil, not a drop.’
    • ‘Hosting Bangalow on Saturday they came away with a convincing 3 - nil victory.’
    • ‘Players who bid nil are committed to winning no tricks themselves.’
    • ‘Claremorris recorded a 3 - nil win over Kilmore in the Mayo senior league last Saturday evening.’
    • ‘Newbridge were good value for their 15 points to nil half time lead.’
    • ‘Bangalow should have put the game away but squandered a 2 - nil lead late in the game.’
    • ‘Vikings started strongly but were unable to convert and so the game was locked at nil all in the first half.’
    nothing, none
    View synonyms


  • Non-existent.

    ‘his chance of survival was virtually nil’
    • ‘Would a nil return be appreciated for the Court?’
    • ‘Simply open a new account and then arrange for a balance transfer to a card with a nil balance.’
    • ‘This situation, with such a trade balance and the high level of the current account, calls for a nil budget deficit.’
    • ‘A farmer is not regarded as charged to tax in those years if he had a farming loss, or if profits were nil due to stock relief.’
    • ‘Private ownership of cars, television sets, telephones, was virtually nil.’
    • ‘Thirty years ago, there were always two officers walking up and down the street and the crime rate was nil.’
    • ‘Like all ideas that involve huge spending today to save money tomorrow, it has been spent to nil effect.’
    • ‘In both situations, they would have difficulty launching in nil wind.’
    • ‘There was nil wind on the ground, but I had a perfect two-stepper landing.’
    • ‘The results so far have been almost nil; the ground is extremely hard.’
    • ‘Using two tanks will give you a range of around 100 miles in nil wind or much more if you fly downwind.’
    • ‘At this point his resistance to any request, no matter how strange, was practically nil.’
    • ‘The feedback is almost nil nowadays, and one does not want to flog a dead horse!’
    • ‘Our knowledge of Pappus's life is almost nil.’
    • ‘There is virtually nil slave trade and ivory is becoming harder and harder to get.’
    • ‘Since there are no factories or workshops the demand for labour is almost nil.’
    • ‘Unlike losing golf balls, the chances of any further payments are virtually nil.’


Mid 19th century: from Latin, contraction of nihil ‘nothing’.