At times, I see terms such as unconditional love and unconditional nothing. I'm not a native English speaker so the combination of these terms such as "unconditional" with "love" and "nothing" confused me. I tried looking up on the definition of condition on some online dictionaries such as Wiktionary, and it means : a requirement, a clause in agreement, state or rank if someone used them as a noun.

If the term condition is used as a verb it means : subject to the process of acclimation, subject to different conditions especially as an exercise, to make dependent on a condition to be fulfilled, to place conditions or limitations upon, to shape the behaviour of someone to do something, to treat (the hair) with hair conditioner, to contract; to stipulate; to agree, to test or assay, as silk (to ascertain the proportion of moisture it contains), (US, colleges, transitive) to put under conditions; to require to pass a new examination or to make up a specified study, as a condition of remaining in one's class or in college and finally to impose upon an object those relations or conditions without which knowledge and thought are alleged to be impossible. https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/condition

Now my question is what does the term "condition" have to do with "love" or "nothing"? Is there a "condition" where love is like that or like this? Similarly, is there a "condition" where nothingness is like that or like this?

If unconditional love actually means never-ending love then the term "never-ending" is much more suitable and certainly more understandable for non-native English speakers, and if unconditional nothing is the same as absolute nothing then using the term "absolute" is much more appropriate than using "unconditional".

  • The meaning of "unconditional" in the collocation "unconditional love" is exactly as given by any dictionary. The meaning of "unconditional nothing" doesn't exist, because that collocation has no currency (it's not in use at all). Sep 28 at 12:56
  • 1
    “Unconditional” is an adjective meaning “not conditional.” Why would you look up the verb “condition” rather than the noun “condition” and the adjective “conditional.” Sep 28 at 13:10
  • These links show the use of "unconditional nothing" bit.ly/3ofVH6k and bit.ly/3uhutNI but it looks like they are using it like poets using words metaphorically. Condition, as a noun, either means a requirement, an agreement or state which I think is not applicable to a concept such as nothingness.
    – SnoopyKid
    Sep 28 at 13:39

Something that is "conditional" has conditions. In a legal context, these may be qualifying conditions. For example, you may see a special offer advertised, but the 'small print' advises you that "terms and conditions apply", meaning that the offer may not apply to you unless you meet those conditions. Conversely, something that is 'unconditional' has no qualifying conditions.

It is quite common to speak of "unconditional love" - love without conditions. You wouldn't be the first person to question this - isn't all love unconditional? If there are conditions, is it really love? There are of course many different kinds of love - for example, the love I have for food is very different from the love I have for my kids. Arguably, some kinds of love are conditional. For example, if I discovered a food that I love was really bad for my health, I might cease to love it quite so much. But even deeper kinds of love may be conditional. What would happen to the love of your partner if they cheated on you? For many, that might well kill off any feelings you have for that person. The love between partners is, in most cases, conditional on it being reciprocated and them remaining loyal to one another.

So, saying "unconditional love" is a common way of showing the depth of that love. Loving your children unconditionally might mean that your love for them endures even if they make life choices you disapprove of.

On the other hand, I have never heard of "unconditional nothingness". Without context, it doesn't make any sense. I don't know what 'conditional nothingness' might be. Nothingness, as a concept, means the absence of all things, which is something either does or does not exist, and I don't see how conditions could be attached to that. Perhaps it might be a way of saying "absolute" nothingness - that the nothingness is without exception, rather than from a limited selection of things. For example, we might say "there is nothing in my refrigerator", meaning there is nothing that could make a meal, rather than an absolute vacuum. If that is the intended meaning, it is still an odd choice of expression, possibly done for poetical reasons rather than making sense in everyday speech.

  • Thank you, I thought unconditional love simply means endless love before getting the answers. That's what I think too when some people used "unconditional nothing", I think what they actually mean were absolute nothing which is more understandable to non-native English speakers. Yes, it does seems they are talking like poets here bit.ly/3ofVH6k and bit.ly/3uhutNI
    – SnoopyKid
    Sep 28 at 13:36
  • One more thing, so "absolute" itself is relative in which the term "relative" is only with respect to a single thing while "absolute" is with respect to everything.
    – SnoopyKid
    Sep 28 at 13:43
  • @SnoopyKid - er, what? Sep 28 at 13:47
  • @MichaelHarvey what's wrong
    – SnoopyKid
    Sep 28 at 13:48
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    @SnoopyKid Something "absolute" is total, complete, all-encompassing. It isn't normally interchangeable with "unconditional", but I'm saying that might be what was intended in your example. Context should help you understand,
    – Astralbee
    Sep 28 at 14:35

"Unconditional love" is a common collocation. It doesn't mean anything like "never-ending". If you love someone or something unconditionally, it means simply that you love without requiring something in return.

I have never heard "unconditional nothing", and it doesn't mean anything to me. If you have a citation for that, please provide it.

  • Thanks, "unconditional nothing" seems very weird to me too as what "condition" for nothing to be absolutely nothing or not? These are some of the links that used "unconditional nothing" bit.ly/3uhutNI and bit.ly/3ofVH6k
    – SnoopyKid
    Sep 28 at 13:24
  • The first of your links doesn't show "unconditional nothingness", as far as I could see. The second link seems to be to an incoherent work about philosophy or religion. The term "unconditional nothingness" does appear there. I can't quite figure out what the writer means by it. I think it's a question more about philosophy than about English language learning. Sep 28 at 13:56

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