I've met it in China Mieville's book "Perdido Street Station".

Never let it be said I don't collect the best

And I still can't figure is he collecting the best or not?

  • 2
    In this case (unlike, say, I didn't do nothing!), the two negations can actually be "cancelled out", effectively leaving Let it be said [that] I collect the best. – FumbleFingers Dec 22 '15 at 21:47
  • @FumbleFingers Well, "I didn't do nothing!" does mean "I did do something!"... – immibis Dec 23 '15 at 1:13
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    @immibis Syntactically, yes. However, nobody would ever think that you intended to say that when they hear someone say "I didn't do nothing." – DJMcMayhem Dec 23 '15 at 1:19
  • It means he always collects the best – user13267 Dec 23 '15 at 2:48
  • or, at least he wants to make it look like he only collects the best; he does not want to give an idea to others that he doesn't collect the best; in other words, he wants others to think he always collects the best – user13267 Dec 23 '15 at 2:49

"Never let it be said that ..." means "Don't let it be said that ..." means "Don't allow anyone to say that ..." So what it means is, if anyone ever says that this person doesn't collect the best, you should correct them. You should explain to them that, no, that's wrong, this person does collect the best. You shouldn't allow anyone to say that the person doesn't collect the best, without arguing with them. It should never go unnoticed, you should always try and make sure people don't get away with saying that.

That's what the expression means literally. In reality, it's usually used figuratively, just as an intensifier. So it really just means "I definitely collect the best" (and anyone who thinks otherwise is mistaken. So misguidedly mistaken that you should always correct them.) But the bit in brackets is not usually meant seriously. Usually, as I say, "never let it be said that xyz" means "xyz is very wrong".

So here, "never let it be said I don't collect the best" means "the idea that I don't collect the best is really wrong" means "I most definitely collect the best".


He says that he did, and he always does, no matter what. He's saying that he's so consistent about it, he should have a reputation for it, which no one can deny.


Let it be {x}..... a form of exhortation, with the verb form changing from "is" to "be" accordingly.

May it be {x} ....

With "never" negating it, it would be "May it never be said...".

That's the grammar of it. The paraphrase is as modulusshift gives in his answer: no one should ever say that I do not collect the best (because I do!)

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