One of my friends told me about the "either" usage:

Let's say you hate food A, and you hate food B. You go to a restaurant and are asked, "Would you like A or B?" The natural response would be, "I don't want either." – WhatRoughBeast

If definition of "either" is:
" You have to choose one, but you don't like both offered choice. "

Then what about neither?

When do we use "neither" and what does it mean?

  • 4
    Either - one or the other of two, neither - not one or the other of two. Do you want to eat coal or broken glass? You can say I don't want either or I want neither. Commented Jul 10, 2023 at 15:45
  • 6
    What @MichaelHarvey said. Etymologically speaking, neither = not either Commented Jul 10, 2023 at 17:48
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    How does either of your comments differ from my answer, really??
    – Lambie
    Commented Jul 10, 2023 at 19:05
  • 11
    @Lambie - well, your answer wasn't there when I wrote my comment above. I do apologise however, and will definitely make sure to clear any comments with you in future. I am sure that Fumblefingers is as equally abjectly sorry. Commented Jul 10, 2023 at 19:12
  • 2
    @evildemonic - do explain the alleged 'joke'. Commented Jul 11, 2023 at 21:49

2 Answers 2


Your definition of "either" is incorrect. It means more like "one or the other".

"Neither" is "not" + "either", so it means something like "not the one and not the other".

So in your context, "I don't want either" means "I don't want A and I don't want B", which is exactly the intent.

We almost never say "not either" together. Instead, we say "neither". So in your context, we cannot say "I want not either", so the natural response with "neither" is:

I want neither.

  • 2
    But in UK "Estuary English" at least, you'll commonly hear "double negative" forms like He don't want niver and She don't want nuffink. Commented Jul 10, 2023 at 17:51
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    Neither is common in many dialects in place of either, but if you're learning English it makes sense to learn the proper rule first.
    – Stuart F
    Commented Jul 10, 2023 at 18:34
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    It's funny but I think my answer is much clearer than yours. Sorry.
    – Lambie
    Commented Jul 11, 2023 at 15:01
  • 1
    @Lambie Indeed, but who are we against so many?
    – gotube
    Commented Jul 11, 2023 at 18:06
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    @gotube - vox populi, vox dei Commented Jul 12, 2023 at 11:59

I want neither (one). = I don't want either (one).

They mean: I want neither food A nor food B.
I do not want either food A or food B.

Mnemonic trick: Think of verbs: I don't eat pastry. I eat no pastry. Two ways to say the same thing.

However, bear in mind that with the neither or no versions, you might sound slightly stilted. :)

  • 2
    It's an application of De Morgan's laws outside of the context where they are usually used. not (A or B) = (not A) and (not B). The former is "I don't want either". The latter is "I want neither".
    – Opifex
    Commented Jul 12, 2023 at 13:38
  • @Opifex I have explained how to use it and my examples are exactly like yours. That said, this is not a logic course.
    – Lambie
    Commented Jul 12, 2023 at 15:57
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    relax buddy... I was just providing some extra trivia, which could be useful if OP has some knowledge of boolean algebra. When I read your answer, it made me philosophize about how it works, and it struck me how clear the parallel was with De Morgan's laws, even though they are generally used in an entirely different context. No need to get upset.
    – Opifex
    Commented Jul 12, 2023 at 20:06

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