from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • adv. Not ever; on no occasion; at no time: He had never been there before. You never can be sure.
  • adv. Not at all; in no way; absolutely not: Never fear. That will never do.
  • idiom never mind Don't bother: I was hoping for some help, but never mind, I'll do it alone.
  • idiom never mind Not to mention; and certainly not: I can't tread water, never mind swim.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • adv. At no time; on no occasion; in no circumstance.
  • adv. Not at any other time; not on any other occasion; not previously.
  • adv. Negative particle (used to negate verbs in the simple past tense; also used absolutely).

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adv. Not ever; not at any time; at no time, whether past, present, or future.
  • adv. In no degree; not in the least; not.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • Not ever; not at any time; at no time, whether past, present, or future.
  • In no degree; not at all; not a whit; not, emphatically.
  • [Never in this use, with the following indefinite article a, is equivalent to no, or none, and in the contracted form ne'er a is the source of the dialectal or slang adjectivc nary.
  • [In this idiom there is a suppressed comparison—‘never (at any other time) so (great, good, much, etc.) as in the case supposed or considered.’ Never, becoming merely emphatic, is now usually replaced by ever.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • adv. not ever; at no time in the past or future
  • adv. not at all; certainly not; not in any circumstances


Middle English, from Old English nǣfre : ne, not; see ne in Indo-European roots + ǣfre, ever; see aiw- in Indo-European roots.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
Old English næfre (Wiktionary)


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