Definition of nil in English:

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Pronunciation: /nɪl/


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


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'.

  • annihilate from Late Middle English:

    Hidden in the middle of annihilate is the Latin word nihil, meaning ‘nothing’, which is at the heart of the English word's meaning. Deriving in the 14th century from the Latin annihilatus ‘reduced to nothing’, it was first used as an adjective with the meaning ‘destroyed or annulled’. Nihil is also the source of nil (mid 16th century).

Words that rhyme with nil

bill, Brazil, brill, Camille, chill, cookchill, dill, distil (US distill), downhill, drill, Edgehill, Estoril, fill, freewill, frill, fulfil (US fulfill), Gill, goodwill, grill, grille, hill, ill, instil, kill, krill, mil, mill, Phil, pill, quadrille, quill, rill, Seville, shill, shrill, sill, skill, spadille, spill, squill, still, stock-still, swill, thill, thrill, till, trill, twill, until, uphill, will

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: nil

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