Definition of nothing in US 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.’
    • ‘They are with an unloved partner because, ultimately, anything is better than nothing.’
    • ‘Of course, none of this has happened yet, and it very well may be that nothing comes of anything.’
    • ‘I could find nothing wrong in anything that John Howard said in his speech today.’
    • ‘Those people who discard anything unwanted at their feet may see nothing wrong or offensive about their behaviour.’
    • ‘The other two plans are to do nothing or have a single congestion charging zone.’
    • ‘Anastasia stood still, looking around for anything suspicious, but nothing happened.’
    • ‘There has been nothing to suggest anything odd was happening at their house.’
    • ‘I don't have to do anything, or say anything, and nothing I do do will be assessed.’
    • ‘Don't worry though - if you haven't done anything wrong you've nothing to fear.’
    • ‘So off I went again, browsing the site knowing that I could afford a CD single and nothing else.’
    • ‘It's not like him and Melissa did anything wrong so he had nothing to be worried about.’
    • ‘If you get it wrong, there's nothing you can do, you're never gonna make anything good.’
    • ‘They didn't take anything because there was nothing for them to take.’
    • ‘There is nothing permanent about anything positive or negative in our lives.’
    • ‘So there was nothing extremist about anything the family have said so far.’
    • ‘What's the use, it never changes anything, nothing ever happens at all.’
    • ‘This is just incredible, it's nothing like anything in Ohio that I've ever worked on.’
    • ‘The final ten minutes of the piece are nothing like anything in the rest of the film which is a real shame.’
    • ‘I can see nothing nor hear anything but I get a prickling feeling on the back of my neck.’
    not a thing, not a single thing, not anything, nothing at all, nil, zero
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    1. 1.1 Something 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’
      • ‘Her surprise was nothing compared to the reason for the unannounced change given her by the driver.’
      • ‘In America, after all, if you are not an immense success, a star, you are nothing, a human zero.’
      • ‘She would not have been burned, but she would have been treated as nothing.’
      • ‘But that is nothing compared to the concerns all Leeds United fans must have.’
      • ‘It was like their argument had amounted into nothing in the face of such beauty.’
      • ‘My trivial career concerns are nothing compared to the what she and Zach live through every day.’
      • ‘My embarrassment was nothing compared to my father's sense of guilt.’
      • ‘Whether they were anything to me or nothing to me, I felt everyone's pain equally.’
      • ‘In retrospect, the most shocking thing was the way the police treated the violence as nothing.’
      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.

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


  • for nothing

    • 1At no cost; without payment.

      ‘working 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.’
      • ‘Nicole Kidman wants to star in a radio play for the BBC and she's so keen that she'll do it for nothing.’
      • ‘Renting china is very expensive so we would like to know if we could use your china for nothing.’
      • ‘I've even had an offer from a designer to put it together for nothing.’
      • ‘Irish rugby is about to get a brand new home, free, gratis and for nothing.’
      • ‘I phoned her to say loads of my constituents will do it for nothing!’
      • ‘Rarely a day passes when letters drop on doorsteps offering an irresistible way to make money or win a free gift for nothing.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘In effect that meant money for nothing for those prepared to wait.’
      • ‘Admission was free and the four played for nothing, which has yet to provoke the organisers' gratitude.’
      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’
      • ‘I am afraid that a whole country, an entire people, will be destroyed 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.’
      • ‘Not for nothing were his closest guards called the Companion Cavalry.’
      • ‘Not for nothing is Alastair clad in the finest cloth, his plaid trimmed in gold, his stockings tied with silk garters.’
      • ‘Surrender and save lives, or resist and let more people be killed for nothing.’
      • ‘They have been training very hard, Michael Bond hasn't gone back there 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.’
      in vain, to no avail, to no purpose, with no result, needlessly, pointlessly, futilely
      View synonyms
  • no nothing

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

      ‘how could you solve it with no clues, no witnesses, no nothing?’
      • ‘There was no light, no candles, no nothing, just that endless night.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Catherine, there are no deals, no agreements, no nothing.’
      • ‘We were completely free, there was no pressure, no nothing - a total creative environment.’
      • ‘There was no acting, no agenda, no nothing with him.’
      • ‘All of a sudden there were no noise complaints, no nothing.’
      • ‘‘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.’
      • ‘There's no blood, no gore, no inventive deaths, no kick-ass villain, no nothing.’
      • ‘That's it: no fanfare, no entourage, 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.’
      • ‘It was not for nothing that the area was declared a top security zone by the Nazis during the Second World War.’
      • ‘It was not for nothing that Goethe's house in East German Weimar was lovingly preserved.’
      • ‘But it's not for nothing that I carry a too-large belly too.’
      • ‘It's not for nothing that the studio is painted silver.’
      • ‘But an architect's seven-year training is not for nothing.’
      • ‘And, not for nothing, Deadwood's got the most complex characters on television.’
      • ‘After all, their heavy investment was not for nothing.’
  • nothing but

    • Only.

      ‘nothing but the best will do’
      • ‘I have been looked after in an exemplary fashion and I have nothing but praise for them.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Its nice to be able to chat with people around the world who are share nothing but the URL address in the browser.’
      • ‘Widescreen is nothing but a means to achieve presentation in the original aspect ratio.’
      • ‘What he does know, however, is that working with lots of women has nothing but benefits.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Her health meant that if she walked out on her husband she would have nothing but the clothes she stood in.’
      • ‘The hours were long, we were fed nothing but sandwiches, and the uniforms were awful.’
      merely, only, just, solely, simply, purely, no more than
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  • 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’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘I decided that there was nothing for it - we'd have to replace the ceiling.’
      • ‘But there was nothing for it but to clear my throat and dial.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘I guess there's nothing for it but to keep chewing and swallowing.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
  • nothing less than

    • Used to emphasize how extreme something is.

      ‘it was nothing less than sexual harassment’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘It is nothing less than to attempt the moral regeneration of British public life.’
      • ‘My aim is nothing less than to make sure that no patient is left behind.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘When politicians distort the truth in relation to medical issues it is nothing less than shameful.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘He had been nothing less than a good father and a good husband.’
  • nothing much

    • Not a great amount; nothing of importance.

      • ‘Now, other than the nurse's daily visit, her meals and the mail, nothing much at all happens.’
      • ‘Equally importantly, however, they have nothing much in common ideologically either.’
      • ‘The trouble is that, as every housewife and office worker knows, making lists can be an excuse for doing nothing much.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘We deliberately chose the afternoon slot as there is nothing much happening during that time.’
      • ‘Looking around the dining room at the decor, nothing much had changed.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘At last came the speech, with nothing much more in it than we'd already been told, and we felt cheated.’
      • ‘The conversation was simple at first: with nothing much mentioned of importance.’
  • there is nothing to it

    • There is no difficulty involved.

      • ‘She had never stolen a horse before and until now, she thought there was nothing to it.’
      • ‘They had been led to believe that there was nothing to it.’
      • ‘As you will see however, there really is nothing to it!’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘There's nothing to it if you know what you're doing.’
      • ‘There's nothing to it, but still they try so hard.’
  • 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.’
      • ‘It was warm and friendly, one of those voices that could soothe hot tempers or whisper sweet nothings in the ear of a lover.’
      • ‘She giggled loudly, pretending Joel was whispering sweet nothings into her ear and she was reacting to them.’
      • ‘At times, they spoke words of endearment and sweet nothings.’
      • ‘There are also various sweet nothings exchanged between the two.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Across from me a gay couple exchanges soft kisses and sweet nothings.’
      • ‘My partner is forever whispering sweet nothings into my ear, and I never quite know what delights are lined up for me next.’
      sweet nothings, sweet words, sweet talk, affectionate talk, soft words
      View synonyms
  • think nothing of

    • Consider (an activity others regard as odd, wrong, or difficult) as straightforward or normal.

      consider normal, consider usual, consider routine, take in one's stride, not think twice about
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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’
  • 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.’


Old English nān thing (see no, thing).