Definition of nothing in English:



  • 1Not anything; no single thing.

    ‘I said nothing’
    ‘there's nothing you can do’
    ‘they found nothing wrong’
    • ‘What we have today is a diluted bill that does nothing to repeal anything.’
    • ‘There has been nothing to suggest anything odd was happening at their house.’
    • ‘Don't worry though - if you haven't done anything wrong you've nothing to fear.’
    • ‘There is nothing permanent about anything positive or negative in our lives.’
    • ‘I can see nothing nor hear anything but I get a prickling feeling on the back of my neck.’
    • ‘So off I went again, browsing the site knowing that I could afford a CD single and nothing else.’
    • ‘They are with an unloved partner because, ultimately, anything is better than nothing.’
    • ‘What's the use, it never changes anything, nothing ever happens at all.’
    • ‘If you get it wrong, there's nothing you can do, you're never gonna make anything good.’
    • ‘The final ten minutes of the piece are nothing like anything in the rest of the film which is a real shame.’
    • ‘So there was nothing extremist about anything the family have said so far.’
    • ‘I don't have to do anything, or say anything, and nothing I do do will be assessed.’
    • ‘Anastasia stood still, looking around for anything suspicious, but nothing happened.’
    • ‘Of course, none of this has happened yet, and it very well may be that nothing comes of anything.’
    • ‘The other two plans are to do nothing or have a single congestion charging zone.’
    • ‘Those people who discard anything unwanted at their feet may see nothing wrong or offensive about their behaviour.’
    • ‘I could find nothing wrong in anything that John Howard said in his speech today.’
    • ‘This is just incredible, it's nothing like anything in Ohio that I've ever worked on.’
    • ‘They didn't take anything because there was nothing for them to take.’
    • ‘It's not like him and Melissa did anything wrong so he had nothing to be worried about.’
    not a thing, not a single thing, not anything, nothing at all, nil, zero
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    1. 1.1Something of no importance or concern.
      ‘“What are you laughing at?” “Oh, nothing, sir.”’
      ‘they are nothing to him’
      [as noun] ‘no longer could we be treated as nothings’
      • ‘In America, after all, if you are not an immense success, a star, you are nothing, a human zero.’
      • ‘But that is nothing compared to the concerns all Leeds United fans must have.’
      • ‘In retrospect, the most shocking thing was the way the police treated the violence as nothing.’
      • ‘My embarrassment was nothing compared to my father's sense of guilt.’
      • ‘She would not have been burned, but she would have been treated as nothing.’
      • ‘My trivial career concerns are nothing compared to the what she and Zach live through every day.’
      • ‘Whether they were anything to me or nothing to me, I felt everyone's pain equally.’
      • ‘Her surprise was nothing compared to the reason for the unannounced change given her by the driver.’
      • ‘It was like their argument had amounted into nothing in the face of such beauty.’
      a matter of no consequence, a matter of no importance, a trifling matter, a trifle, a piece of trivia, a bagatelle, a mere bagatelle
      a person of no importance, an unimportant person, a person of no account, a nobody, a nonentity, a cipher, a non-person
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    2. 1.2(in calculations) no amount; zero.
      • ‘First the forward transaction costs nothing for either party to enter into.’
      • ‘What I could not get used to was the money, huge wads of notes amounting to virtually nothing.’
      zero, nought, 0
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  • [attributive] Having no prospect of progress; of no value.

    ‘he had a series of nothing jobs’


  • 1Not at all.

    ‘she cares nothing for others’
    ‘he looks nothing like the others’
    1. 1.1North American informal [postpositive]Used to contradict something emphatically.
      ‘“This is a surprise.” “Surprise nothing.”’


  • be nothing to do with

  • for nothing

    • 1At no cost; without payment.

      ‘working for nothing’
      • ‘Nicole Kidman wants to star in a radio play for the BBC and she's so keen that she'll do it for nothing.’
      • ‘In effect that meant money for nothing for those prepared to wait.’
      • ‘Rarely a day passes when letters drop on doorsteps offering an irresistible way to make money or win a free gift for nothing.’
      • ‘Irish rugby is about to get a brand new home, free, gratis and for nothing.’
      • ‘Admission was free and the four played for nothing, which has yet to provoke the organisers' gratitude.’
      • ‘He will probably even be paid for a job he'd have done for nothing.’
      • ‘No party ever offered such a cornucopia of naked bribes to the voter, all absolutely free, gratis and for nothing.’
      • ‘I phoned her to say loads of my constituents will do it for nothing!’
      • ‘I've even had an offer from a designer to put it together for nothing.’
      • ‘Renting china is very expensive so we would like to know if we could use your china for nothing.’
      • ‘I can say to any CEO that if it doesn't cut their costs then they can have the inventory system for nothing.’
      free, gratis, without charge, without payment, free of charge, at no cost
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    • 2To no purpose.

      ‘he died anyway; so it had all been for nothing’
      • ‘It takes nerves of steel to bite your tongue and say nothing because we'd rather be paid than end up having an argument for nothing.’
      • ‘They have been training very hard, Michael Bond hasn't gone back there for nothing.’
      • ‘I am afraid that a whole country, an entire people, will be destroyed for nothing.’
      • ‘They don't call this sleepy frontier town Little Hollywood for nothing.’
      • ‘They're not going to come back for the hard training, busting a gut for nothing.’
      • ‘Not for nothing were his closest guards called the Companion Cavalry.’
      • ‘Surrender and save lives, or resist and let more people be killed for nothing.’
      • ‘Not for nothing is Alastair clad in the finest cloth, his plaid trimmed in gold, his stockings tied with silk garters.’
      in vain, to no avail, to no purpose, with no result, needlessly, pointlessly, futilely
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  • have nothing on someone

  • have nothing to do with

    • 1Have no contact or dealings with.

      ‘Billy and his father have had nothing to do with each other for nearly twenty years’
      • ‘The funny thing is, he left a pregnant girl in New Zealand and will have nothing to do with the child he fathered.’
      • ‘And the God who is invoked in justification of these is a God I wish to have nothing to do with.’
      • ‘He can tell me that Jack is just some stupid Junior that I should have nothing to do with.’
      • ‘If the father wants to have nothing to do with the baby then he may or may not mind the mother having an abortion.’
      • ‘It is a sweet tale of a boy in love with a girl whose father will let her have nothing to do with him.’
      • ‘I suggest you two shake hands and apologize now, or I will have nothing to do with either of you again!’
      steer clear of, avoid, shun, evade, eschew, shy away from, fight shy of, recoil from, keep away from, keep one's distance from, give a wide berth to, leave alone
      snub, give someone the cold shoulder, cold-shoulder, ignore, turn one's back on
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      1. 1.1Be no business or concern of.
        ‘it's my decision—it has nothing to do with you’
        • ‘Every time MPs try to get answers from the Department of Health, we are told it is nothing to do with ministers.’
        • ‘As a businessman himself, he should obviously be able to draw the distinction between running a successful business for commercial gain and getting involved in something that is nothing to do with him.’
        • ‘It was between the clubs and they couldn't agree a price. It was nothing to do with me so I just ignored it.’
        • ‘This is our concern alone, this is nothing to do with you!’
        • ‘It was nothing to do with anyone other than his family.’
        • ‘Striker Andy Gray said: ‘We've got to do the business on the pitch, what goes on off it is nothing to do with us.’’
        • ‘I always thought that it was nothing to do with me, that it was to do with other people's opinion.’
        • ‘We wanted to go with him for counselling but we were told our son was over 18 and it was nothing to do with us.’
        be unconnected with, be unrelated to
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      2. 1.2Be unconnected with.
        ‘he says his departure has nothing to do with the calls for his resignation’
        • ‘The ailments that he had - bronchitis, asthma, malaria - were nothing to do with war service so he had to live on a ten shillings-a-week pension.’
        • ‘I discovered I had some skills that I didn't realise were saleable - namely writing and speaking - which were nothing to do with my first career as an oil executive.’
        • ‘It is nothing to do with how fast you run, the power comes from the shoulders.’
        • ‘It was nothing to do with politics and everything to do with evidence.’
        • ‘The girl was nothing to do with what was going on, a completely innocent bystander hit by a stray bullet.’
        • ‘The Government preens itself about how well the economy is going, but that is nothing to do with what it has done.’
        • ‘The reason it didn't work was nothing to do with how I looked, we just weren't right for each other.’
        • ‘According to an airport spokesperson, both of these flights were delayed because the planes were late arriving at the airport and were nothing to do with the fact that security guards were on strike at the same time.’
        • ‘But I can confirm it was nothing to do with drugs.’
        • ‘I went to the studio, and they asked me the most foolish questions that were nothing to do with animal welfare.’
        be unconnected with, be unrelated to
        avoid, have no dealings with, have no truck with, avoid dealing with, have no contact with, steer clear of, give a wide berth to
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  • no nothing

    • informal (concluding a list of negatives) nothing at all.

      ‘how could you solve it with no clues, no witnesses, no nothing?’
      • ‘We were completely free, there was no pressure, no nothing - a total creative environment.’
      • ‘‘There were no maps, no photos, no nothing,’ she says of her trip up and down the 15,000-foot towers on the China-Russia border.’
      • ‘All of a sudden there were no noise complaints, no nothing.’
      • ‘But when you're 15 and there's no cinema, no way to get home from a gig, no nothing, all you want to do is get out.’
      • ‘That's it: no fanfare, no entourage, no nothing.’
      • ‘Catherine, there are no deals, no agreements, no nothing.’
      • ‘There was no acting, no agenda, no nothing with him.’
      • ‘There was no light, no candles, no nothing, just that endless night.’
      • ‘There's no blood, no gore, no inventive deaths, no kick-ass villain, no nothing.’
      • ‘We didn't visit people there but drove straight through from Israel on a four-lane highway - no border, no check-point, no nothing.’
  • not for nothing

    • For a very good reason.

      ‘not for nothing have I got a brother-in-law who cooks professionally’
      • ‘It's not for nothing that they call our heritage Judeo-Christian.’
      • ‘It's not for nothing that this author published a dissertation on another poet of private systems, William Blake.’
      • ‘It is not for nothing that we are called the Festival City.’
      • ‘But an architect's seven-year training is not for nothing.’
      • ‘It's not for nothing that the studio is painted silver.’
      • ‘It was not for nothing that the area was declared a top security zone by the Nazis during the Second World War.’
      • ‘After all, their heavy investment was not for nothing.’
      • ‘And, not for nothing, Deadwood's got the most complex characters on television.’
      • ‘But it's not for nothing that I carry a too-large belly too.’
      • ‘It was not for nothing that Goethe's house in East German Weimar was lovingly preserved.’
  • nothing but

    • Only.

      ‘nothing but the best will do’
      • ‘What he does know, however, is that working with lots of women has nothing but benefits.’
      • ‘Widescreen is nothing but a means to achieve presentation in the original aspect ratio.’
      • ‘I supposed if there is nothing but noise in your life you have no choice but to deal with it.’
      • ‘He's over in the kitchen area, wearing nothing but his hat and a baggy pair of Y-fronts.’
      • ‘I have been looked after in an exemplary fashion and I have nothing but praise for them.’
      • ‘At a recent talk we gave, Ann was accused of eating nothing but scones and toasted teacakes.’
      • ‘He held her for a very long time, in which she did nothing but simply be in his long arms, so sorry and so loving.’
      • ‘Its nice to be able to chat with people around the world who are share nothing but the URL address in the browser.’
      • ‘The hours were long, we were fed nothing but sandwiches, and the uniforms were awful.’
      • ‘Her health meant that if she walked out on her husband she would have nothing but the clothes she stood in.’
      merely, only, just, solely, simply, purely, no more than
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  • nothing daunted

    • Without having been made fearful or apprehensive.

      ‘nothing daunted, the committee set to work’
      • ‘But he had a big local following and nothing daunted, won a seat on the Council.’
      • ‘As they came up they were met with a thick shower of arrows; but nothing daunted, they pushed on in true Highland fashion.’
      • ‘The week before's outdoor session was rained off, but nothing daunted the members adjourned to the clubroom where an impromptu portraiture session was set up, with members being put through their paces by Michael O'Sullivan.’
      • ‘Carolino did not know English but, nothing daunted, he used an English / French phrase book and a French / Portuguese phrase book to produce a yet to be determined language.’
      • ‘When the propeller blade had split in the air, several splinters of wood had flown off, but Bennett, nothing daunted, shaped new bits out of a packing case to fill the gaps.’
  • nothing doing

    • 1informal There is no prospect of success or agreement.

      ‘He wants to marry her. Nothing doing!’
    • 2informal Nothing is happening.

      ‘there's nothing doing, and I've been waiting for weeks’
  • nothing (or nothing else) for it

    • No alternative.

      ‘there was nothing for it but to follow’
      • ‘There's nothing for it, I'm just going to have to unwrap the whole thing.’
      • ‘There was nothing for it but to improve what they had.’
      • ‘Their car is marooned in fog; there is nothing for it but to wait, and their uneasy banter is interspersed with stylised flashbacks, giving clues not merely to their present situation but to Leo's psychotic state.’
      • ‘I decided that there was nothing for it - we'd have to replace the ceiling.’
      • ‘Poor old Rod's telly was on the blink, and he understandably felt there was nothing for it but to scamper up for a fiddle around with the aerial.’
      • ‘So, anyway, come Monday there's always a small pile of left-over high calorie stuff from the fridge that ought to go in the bin, except there's nothing at all wrong with it and there's nothing for it but to set myself down and eat it up.’
      • ‘I double checked against the previous few entries, pulled down the calendar to verify, but there was nothing for it, I had to admit to myself that my disjointed day had indeed been a Tuesday.’
      • ‘Over the next four days there was nothing for it but bed rest, regular doses of paracetamol washed down with water, and the occasional banana for sustenance.’
      • ‘I guess there's nothing for it but to keep chewing and swallowing.’
      • ‘But there was nothing for it but to clear my throat and dial.’
  • nothing less than

    • Used to emphasize how extreme something is.

      ‘it was nothing less than sexual harassment’
      • ‘The Parmesan tart was nothing less than truly gorgeous; she had chosen wisely again.’
      • ‘He is asking us to do nothing less than to take on his characteristics and become like him.’
      • ‘My aim is nothing less than to make sure that no patient is left behind.’
      • ‘Farmers should not sell their maize to briefcase buyers who aim at nothing less than just exploiting them.’
      • ‘Over the past decade we have seen nothing less than a revolution in the self-referential nature of Scottish art.’
      • ‘The man who speaks for these corporations aims for nothing less than to change the world.’
      • ‘When politicians distort the truth in relation to medical issues it is nothing less than shameful.’
      • ‘It is nothing less than to attempt the moral regeneration of British public life.’
      • ‘At stake will be nothing less than the future of the finest natural boxing talent to come out of the east of Scotland since Ken Buchanan.’
      • ‘He had been nothing less than a good father and a good husband.’
  • nothing loath

    • Quite willing.

      • ‘The sound of the breaking yoke in my dream changed into the sound of someone knocking on my door in the waking world, and nothing loath, I got up and opened it.’
  • nothing much

    • Not a great amount; nothing of importance.

      • ‘Equally importantly, however, they have nothing much in common ideologically either.’
      • ‘At last came the speech, with nothing much more in it than we'd already been told, and we felt cheated.’
      • ‘The trouble is that, as every housewife and office worker knows, making lists can be an excuse for doing nothing much.’
      • ‘Now, other than the nurse's daily visit, her meals and the mail, nothing much at all happens.’
      • ‘For the rest of us, the general view seems to be that consultation is all very well but there's a lot of it about and nothing much seems to come of it.’
      • ‘But on Tuesday when we had ordered the wood we had nothing much else to do so we set to demolishing the kitchen instead.’
      • ‘It also struck me that nothing much has changed - even the topics are reminiscent of days gone by.’
      • ‘Looking around the dining room at the decor, nothing much had changed.’
      • ‘We deliberately chose the afternoon slot as there is nothing much happening during that time.’
      • ‘The conversation was simple at first: with nothing much mentioned of importance.’
  • there is nothing to it

    • There is no difficulty involved.

      • ‘They had been led to believe that there was nothing to it.’
      • ‘There's nothing to it, but still they try so hard.’
      • ‘She had never stolen a horse before and until now, she thought there was nothing to it.’
      • ‘I whistled a happy tune as I whizzed along - nothing to it, I thought, I'll probably sit on the wall in the sun all day outside the school at Crimlin and have a chat with all the voters on their way in.’
      • ‘I would tell you how difficult choosing the winner was, but since the selection was totally arbitrary and fueled with cheap brandy, there was really nothing to it.’
      • ‘There's nothing to it if you know what you're doing.’
      • ‘Just follow the instructions - there's really nothing to it.’
      • ‘You may at first think that there is literally nothing to it.’
      • ‘‘Clearly, there was nothing to it,’ McNair said.’
      • ‘As you will see however, there really is nothing to it!’
  • stop at nothing

    • Be utterly ruthless or determined in one's attempt to achieve something.

      ‘he would stop at nothing to retain his position of power’
      • ‘The absolutist, Joseph II, who succeeded Maria Theresa, failed in his reforms, though he stopped at nothing in his attempts to carry them out.’
      • ‘Already some commentators are calling for justice to be ‘tilted’ to protect the innocent from butchers who will stop at nothing.’
      • ‘Utterly determined to repair the Union, Lincoln would stop at nothing to achieve his aim.’
      • ‘In those times the leaders of the clan were cruel and stopped at nothing to gain their ends.’
      • ‘The competing elite factions are engaged in a bitter struggle to gain control of the state apparatus and will stop at nothing to achieve their ends.’
      • ‘And we know to a certainty that this is the regime that will stop at nothing to accomplish its irrational goals.’
      • ‘No matter how thin the anorexic gets, she sees herself as fat and stops at nothing to get thinner.’
      • ‘Faulkner is a young, ambitious, ruthless woman who will stop at nothing in order to secure a lofty management job.’
      • ‘They will stop at nothing and use any means possible to get what they want, regardless of whether this includes losing homes, business etc.’
      • ‘We are faced with a deadly and determined adversary who will stop at nothing and will persevere as long as he exists.’
      persevere, continue, carry on, go on, keep at it, keep on, keep going, keep it up, not give up, be persistent, be determined, follow something through, see something through, show determination, press ahead, press on, plod on, plough on, stay with something, not take no for an answer
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  • sweet nothings

    • Words of affection exchanged by lovers.

      ‘whispering sweet nothings in her ear’
      • ‘Then she would have leaned over and stroked the mare's neck whispering sweet nothings in her ear as the animal pranced.’
      • ‘There are also various sweet nothings exchanged between the two.’
      • ‘My partner is forever whispering sweet nothings into my ear, and I never quite know what delights are lined up for me next.’
      • ‘Obviously everybody was excited to see me, and the girls in particular were very keen to come and sit on my knee and whisper sweet nothings in my ear.’
      • ‘Across from me a gay couple exchanges soft kisses and sweet nothings.’
      • ‘She giggled loudly, pretending Joel was whispering sweet nothings into her ear and she was reacting to them.’
      • ‘It was warm and friendly, one of those voices that could soothe hot tempers or whisper sweet nothings in the ear of a lover.’
      • ‘He soothes his people, muttering sweet nothings instead of answering questions or telling the Australian people what this is really all about and what he has really done on our behalf, in defiance of our wishes.’
      • ‘He kissed me on the forehead while doing so and placed me on his lap whispering sweet nothings and soothing words into my ear to calm me.’
      • ‘At times, they spoke words of endearment and sweet nothings.’
      sweet nothings, sweet words, sweet talk, affectionate talk, soft words
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  • think nothing of it

    • Do not apologize or feel bound to show gratitude (used as a polite response)

  • you ain't seen nothing yet

    • informal Used to indicate that although something may be considered extreme or impressive, there is something even more extreme or impressive in store.

      ‘if you think that was muddy, you ain't seen nothing yet’


Old English nān thing (see no, thing).