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noth·ing (nŭthĭng)
1. No thing; not anything: The box contained nothing. I've heard nothing about it.
2. No part; no portion: Nothing remains of the old house but the cellar hole.
3. One of no consequence, significance, or interest: The new nonsmoking policy is nothing to me.
1. Something that has no existence.
2. Something that has no quantitative value; zero: a score of two to nothing.
3. One that has no substance or importance; a nonentity: "A nothing is a dreadful thing to hold onto" (Edna O'Brien).
Insignificant or worthless: "the utterly nothing role of a wealthy suitor" (Bosley Crowther).
In no way or degree; not at all: She looks nothing like her sister.
for nothing
1. Free of charge.
2. To no avail: all that trouble for nothing.
3. For no reason: fired him for nothing.
in nothing flat
In very little time; very quickly.
nothing doing Informal
Certainly not.
nothing for it
Nothing else to be done; no alternative: "There is nothing for it but to wait for the end" (Samuel Beckett).

[Middle English, from Old English nāthing : nā, no; see NO2 + thing, thing; see THING.]

Usage Note: According to the traditional rule, nothing should always be treated as a singular, even when followed by an exception phrase containing a plural noun: Nothing except your fears stands (not stand) in your way. Nothing but roses meets (not meet) the eye. · But there are certain contexts in which nothing but sounds quite natural with a plural verb and should not be considered inappropriate. In these sentences, constructions like nothing but function much like an adverb meaning "only," in a pattern similar to one seen in none but: "Sometimes, for a couple of hours together, there were almost no houses; there were nothing but woods and rivers and lakes and horizons adorned with bright-looking mountains" (Henry James). Note that the construction is sometimes used in the predicate following a form of the verb be to emphasize equivalence with the subject, even when plural: "Years of selective breeding have produced turkeys that are nothing but cooking pouches with legs" (Garrison Keillor). See Usage Note at none.

The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2022 by HarperCollins Publishers. All rights reserved.

Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices

    Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:

    Indo-European Roots

    Semitic Roots

    The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.