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What is the difference caused by using “nope” instead of ”no”?

Is it used because “nope” sounds better and not straight like “no”? In some situations, it feels like nope is better to use than no even though it adds 2 more characters. What is the reason why many use it?

  • 2
    Not a language expert but nope sounds very much like No Period. As in No that's my final no. – user6917 Jun 5 '14 at 14:50
  • @Ian, very good observation. StoneyB made a similar conclusion in a comment to an answer, below. ("terminal/dismissive...no, and that's all I have to say") – CoolHandLouis Jun 10 '14 at 1:24
  • A speculative theory about the origin of "Nope" is suggested by the reason cited for Bertrand's use of "you sam" in Kingsley Amis's Lucky Jim: fiftybooksproject.blogspot.com/2011/07/…, search the page for "sam" – verbose Jan 11 '17 at 18:19

10 Answers 10

68

From here, they have no difference in meaning; but nope is more informal, only used in a sense of opposite to yes (or yup). Also, nope is not used often in writing.

You wouldn't say "there were nope errors", for example.

  • 20
    I would note that "nope" is very informal. It is almost never written - just spoken. – J.T. Grimes Jan 23 '13 at 21:28
  • 6
    You've added another point in your answer -- "nope" can't be used as a modifier, only as an independent statement. – barbara beeton Jan 26 '13 at 13:35
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    I'm not convinced nope is more emphatic. In fact, I could easily convince myself there are contexts where it's less emphatic. The most defining characteristic of nope is that it tends to be used to convey a relaxed attitude. In an "informal" setting such as an argument in a pub, for example, if some big aggressive guy asks you if you want a punch in the mouth, you say "No!", not "Nope!". Using the latter would probably get you beaten up, simply because it would sound as if you were making light of the situation. – FumbleFingers Reinstate Monica Jan 27 '13 at 22:34
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    Nope is more of an opposite to yep or yup, since they are both in the same register. – Robusto Jan 31 '13 at 1:45
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    I'll reverse my downvote now you've removed the "less emphatic" stuff. Which of course was the main reason I posted an answer in the first place, so most of that might as well be removed now as well. But I'm going to keep my answer because you've missed a subtle point. You linked to J.R.'s answer on ELU, but notice his "you might use it to answer a yes-or-no question". Implying other ways you might. But John Lawler (the other answer) echoes it as "occurs only as a one-word answer to Y/N". Definitely no other possibilities there. – FumbleFingers Reinstate Monica Feb 1 '13 at 3:13
25

The first and most important point to note it that it's very informal (more so than using contractions such as my it's there, for example).

The main reason for using it at all stems from that "extreme informality". It normally conveys a relaxed attitude on the part of the speaker. Depending on context, it can be more or less emphatic than "No".

You only use nope to mean [my answer is] "No" – it never replaces no in any other contexts. And you wouldn't normally use it where you want to be very emphatic (shouting "No!" at the top of your voice). Which example illustrates a defining characteristic – "Nope" isn't often followed by an exclamation mark!

Finally, I'd echo John Lawler's words: "nope" occurs only as a one-word answer to Y/N questions. That's to say, a written form such as:

"Nope I don't want to"

doesn't look right. We expect a full stop (or at the very least a comma) after "Nope" because in real-world speech there always would be a pause there. But that doesn't happen with:

"No I don't want to!"

because it's perfectly possible to speak those words without pausing appreciably after "No" (without necessarily placing extra stress on "don't", either; I just italicised it as one possible enunciation).

  • 3
    I think it is not so much emphatic as terminal or dismissive. It's not actually a distinct word: it's just no pronounced with a conclusive closing of the mouth which produces an effect like an unaspirated /p/. It's a gesture: no, and that's all I have to say. – StoneyB on hiatus Feb 24 '13 at 21:51
  • @StoneyB: Well it seems to me that a "terminal/dismissive" negative response is effectively the same thing as an emphatic one. It's a moot point whether no and nope are "the same" word, given that OP is asking what differences might exist between them. And apart from the informality, I think it's significant you'd rarely if ever shout "Nope!" at the top of your voice as a one-word rejection. – FumbleFingers Reinstate Monica Feb 24 '13 at 22:00
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    I agree that you don't shout Nope! - shouting is a challenge. Nope always has so to speak a period at the end. Your interlocutor may take offense at the dismissal; you may even intend him to do so; but you are affecting a posture of disinclination to pursue the matter further. Or as you say, you're making light of the situation. – StoneyB on hiatus Feb 24 '13 at 22:28
  • I disagree; "No, I don't want to!" requires a comma after "No" just as much as "Nope, I don't want to!" requires it after "Nope." Omitting the comma would be informal (at best) in either case. – Kyralessa Jan 9 '18 at 11:06
  • @Kyralessa: I'm not really interested in orthographic conventions - I'm talking about language here, which is essentially spoken. Perhaps I should have given my example as No I don't!, since that would still illustrate my substantive point (that Nope I don't is non-idiomatic) without getting bogged down in how acceptable it is to omit that comma in the written form. – FumbleFingers Reinstate Monica Jan 9 '18 at 14:36
8

"Nope" is informal. You wouldn't usually want to use it, for example, answering questions for a job interview, but it would be an appropriate answer to a friend's question "Have you seen that movie yet?"

5

In my opinion Nope is a dismissive and slightly rude version of no. Nope should never be used in a professional context e.g. it should never be used as an option for web site or search engine users to select as a response to a question, because it makes the company using it look un-professional and rude to their customers. The use of the word nope by Google and others makes me cringe so much that I will never click on it in response to a question.

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    By being less professional they probably intended to come across as friendly, rather than rude. – Dan Getz May 28 '15 at 15:19
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Nope is used informally, normally during chat where you want to give a quick, fluid answer to a question without halting it like 'No' would.

They both mean the same thing, and 'Nope' is very rarely written.

2

I think there's another nuance in meaning beyond the informal vs formal. For instance:

You don't think I'm pretty.

If someone responds "no" it is because he is disagreeing with the statement - he actually does think the speaker is pretty.

If someone responds "nope" it is because he agrees with the implication - he really does not think the speaker is pretty.

It's a subtle difference, but one to note.

  • The difference you proper isn't subtle, your two meanings are contradictory. That is not any usage that i have ever encouñtered. – Chenmunka Nov 11 '15 at 18:37
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I agree with the person who says that nope is dismissive and slightly rude and I would add that a text nope feels rude to the recipient. It feels like a "final" no.

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I think the context has a lot to do with how the word Nope is perceived:

  1. Somebody asks you for something.

    - Will you do something for me?
    - Nope. << Rude

  2. Somebody asks for information.

    - Is your name Sam?
    - Nope. << Playful / informal

Maybe the word Nope implies a casual, relaxed attitude, which in some cases may come off as dismissive.

0

I think there is a subtle difference between emphatic and dismissive or terminal. And I think that nope is often used in the latter two ways. Think of how the lips must close together and this gives nope its terminal feeling in a physical way. Pursed lips. Can't pry them open. Not going to change.

0

Nope is an informal variant of one of the meanings No which is:

3 : not so —used to express negation, dissent, denial, or refusal (e.g. no, I'm not going)
Webster-Merriam

That is why, we can only use it for Yes/No questions.

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