I could never make sense out of the largely informal phrase, "no nothing". Minus minus equals plus. So literally, "no nothing" comes to mean "something" or "anything". But it is almost always used in the opposite sense.

Why and how was it coined?

Simply "nothing" serves the job well. Do we even need to use it?

  • 1
    Can you provide an example of a statement that uses it? Also, natural language is not like coding language. Double negatives can be emphatic. I never said nothing like that! – Tᴚoɯɐuo May 6 '17 at 12:31
  • Does it make more sense in the original context if you stop considering it as one phrase? The exchange "Did you find anything yet?" / "No. I've found nothing." can be shortened to "Find anything?" "No. Nothing". – Gary Botnovcan Jul 4 '17 at 15:04
  • It is just emphatic. Don't you have that in Persian? Do you want anything? Answer; No, nothing. – Lambie Apr 24 at 22:16

In many other languages, double negatives serve to emphasize negativity, not cancel it. Double negatives cancelling each other out is true in correct, formal, or technical English, but in various forms of informal or slang English, it can be used as emphasis.

Going off of an example provided by Urban Dictionary:

I've got no house, no car, no food, no nothing!

This is definitely not something you would say in a formal situation, and definitely an instance where the double negative is being used for emphasis and not literally "no nothing = anything".

I can't really think of an example where no nothing would appear in a sentence apart from telling someone they have absolutely nothing similar to the manner above.

  • In answer to a question, No, nothing. is not a double negative at all. – Lambie Apr 24 at 22:17

It goes like this, three movements. First, nothing as the void, then it have to exist, it becomes no-nothing as distortion of the truth of the statement, imaginary distortion. The third movement would be no-no-nothing, as what is not distortion of truth, namely Not no-thing, is something.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.