Definition of nothing in English:

Share this entry


Pronunciation: /ˈnʌθɪŋ/


1Not anything; no single thing: I said nothing there’s nothing you can do they found nothing wrong
More example sentences
  • Don't worry though - if you haven't done anything wrong you've nothing to fear.
  • 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.
not a thing, not a single thing, not anything, nothing at all, nil, zero;
Northern English  nowt
informal zilch, sweet Fanny Adams, sweet FA, nix, not a dicky bird
British informal damn all, not a sausage
North American informal zip, nada, a goose egg, bupkis
British vulgar slang bugger all, sod all, fuck all
archaic nought, naught
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
More example sentences
  • My trivial career concerns are nothing compared to the what she and Zach live through every day.
  • 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.
a matter of no importance/consequence, a trifling matter, a trifle, a piece of trivia, a (mere) bagatelle;
neither here nor there
informal no big deal
a person of no importance, an unimportant person, a person of no account, a nobody, a nonentity, a cipher, a non-person;
a lightweight;
British  small beer
1.2(In calculations) no amount; nought.
Example sentences
  • What I could not get used to was the money, huge wads of notes amounting to virtually nothing.
  • First the forward transaction costs nothing for either party to enter into.
zero, nought, 0;
Tennis  love;
Cricket  a duck


[attributive] informal
Having no prospect of progress; of no value: he had a series of nothing jobs


1Not at all: a man who cared nothing for her he looks nothing like the others
1.1 [postpositive] North American informal Used to contradict something emphatically: ‘This is a surprise.’ ‘Surprise nothing.’



be nothing to do with

see do1.

for nothing

1At no cost; without payment: working for nothing is a luxury I can’t afford
More example sentences
  • No party ever offered such a cornucopia of naked bribes to the voter, all absolutely free, gratis and for nothing.
  • Irish rugby is about to get a brand new home, free, gratis and 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.
free, gratis, without charge, without payment, free of charge, at no cost
informal for free, on the house
2To no purpose: he died anyway, so it had all been for nothing
More example sentences
  • Not for nothing is Alastair clad in the finest cloth, his plaid trimmed in gold, his stockings tied with silk garters.
  • Not for nothing were his closest guards called the Companion Cavalry.
  • They don't call this sleepy frontier town Little Hollywood for nothing.
in vain, to no avail, to no purpose, with no result, needlessly, pointlessly, futilely
archaic bootlessly

have nothing on someone

see have.

have nothing to do with

see do1.

no nothing

informal (Concluding a list of negatives) nothing at all: how could you solve it with no clues, no witnesses, no nothing?
More example sentences
  • All of a sudden there were no noise complaints, no nothing.
  • We were completely free, there was no pressure, no nothing - a total creative environment.
  • 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.

not for nothing

For a very good reason: not for nothing have I a brother-in-law who cooks professionally
More example sentences
  • It was not for nothing that the area was declared a top security zone by the Nazis during the Second World War.
  • But it's not for nothing that I carry a too-large belly too.
  • It's not for nothing that they call our heritage Judeo-Christian.

nothing but

Only: nothing but the best will do
More example sentences
  • 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.
  • I supposed if there is nothing but noise in your life you have no choice but to deal with it.
  • Widescreen is nothing but a means to achieve presentation in the original aspect ratio.
merely, only, just, solely, simply, purely, no more than

nothing daunted

see daunt.

nothing doing

1There is no prospect of success or agreement: He wants to marry her. Nothing doing!
2Nothing is happening: there’s nothing doing, and I’ve been waiting for weeks

nothing (or nothing else) for it

British No alternative: there was nothing for it but to follow
More example sentences
  • 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.
  • 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.

nothing if not

Very; above all: he has proved nothing if not consistent
More example sentences
  • He is nothing if not a local hero.
  • She's nothing if not ambitious.
  • He has been nothing if not controversial in a career that began as a teenage trainee on the fisheries board before he bought his first boat at the age of 21.

nothing less than

Used to emphasize how great or extreme something is: it was nothing less than sexual harassment
More example sentences
  • Farmers should not sell their maize to briefcase buyers who aim at nothing less than just exploiting them.
  • 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.

nothing much

Not a great amount; nothing of importance: there was nothing much to see
More example sentences
  • The conversation was simple at first: with nothing much mentioned of importance.
  • Equally importantly, however, they have nothing much in common ideologically either.
  • It also struck me that nothing much has changed - even the topics are reminiscent of days gone by.

there is nothing like

There is nothing similar to or as good as: there’s nothing like a party to lighten the mood
More example sentences
  • There's nothing like a cold beer on a hot day.
  • He said there was nothing like a home-cooked meal.
  • He has found that there's nothing like a mint julep to calm your nerves.

there is nothing to it

There is no difficulty involved.
Example sentences
  • 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, but still they try so hard.

stop at nothing

see stop.

sweet nothings

Words of affection exchanged by lovers: Ned appeared to be whispering sweet nothings in her ear
More example sentences
  • 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.
  • She giggled loudly, pretending Joel was whispering sweet nothings into her ear and she was reacting to them.

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 however extreme or impressive something may seem, it will be overshadowed by what is to come: if you think that was muddy, you ain’t seen nothing yet


Old English nān thing (see no, thing).

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: noth|ing

Share this entry

What do you find interesting about this word or phrase?

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