Share this entry

Share this page


Line breaks: nil
Pronunciation: /nɪl

Definition of nil in English:


Nothing, especially as the score in certain games; zero: they beat us three-nil
More example sentences
  • They were winning by eight points to nil until Ronan Conway scored the only goal of the game well into injury time.
  • 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.
  • Vikings started strongly but were unable to convert and so the game was locked at nil all in the first half.
nothing, none;
nought, zero, 0;
Tennis love;
Cricket a duck;
Northern English nowt
informal zilch, nix, not a dicky bird
British informal damn all, (sweet) Fanny Adams, sweet F.A., not a sausage
North American informal zip, nada, a goose egg
British vulgar slang bugger all, sod all, fuck all
Computing null character
literary null
dated cipher
archaic naught


Back to top  
Non-existent: his chance of survival was virtually nil
More example sentences
  • Unlike losing golf balls, the chances of any further payments are virtually nil.
  • Like all ideas that involve huge spending today to save money tomorrow, it has been spent to nil effect.
  • There was nil wind on the ground, but I had a perfect two-stepper landing.


mid 19th century: from Latin, contraction of nihil 'nothing'.

Definition of nil in:

Share this entry

Share this page


What do you find interesting about this word or phrase?

Comments that don't adhere to our Community Guidelines may be moderated or removed.

Get more from Oxford Dictionaries

Subscribe to remove adverts and access premium resources

Word of the day orthoepy
Pronunciation: ˈɔːθəʊɛpi
the correct or accepted pronunciation of words