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[nev-er] /ˈnɛv ər/
not ever; at no time:
Such an idea never occurred to me.
not at all; absolutely not:
never mind; This will never do.
to no extent or degree:
He was never the wiser for his experience.
never mind, don't bother; don't concern yourself.
Origin of never
before 900; Middle English; Old English nǣfre, equivalent to ne not + ǣfre ever Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for never
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • I have never seen the soul withdrawn without a struggle with the body.

    Philothea Lydia Maria Child
  • Yet the great lady is not careless of engagements, and the wait is never prolonged.

    The Spenders Harry Leon Wilson
  • Besides, I never felt contempt for anything to which the gods had given life.

    Philothea Lydia Maria Child
  • The haughtiness of others can never make us angry, if we ourselves are humble.

    Philothea Lydia Maria Child
  • "I never saw a philosopher that dressed so well as Plato," said Eudora.

    Philothea Lydia Maria Child
British Dictionary definitions for never


adverb, sentence substitute
at no time; not ever
certainly not; by no means; in no case
Also well I never!. surely not!
Usage note
In informal speech and writing, never can be used instead of not with the simple past tenses of certain verbs for emphasis (I never said that; I never realized how clever he was), but this usage should be avoided in serious writing
Word Origin
Old English nǣfre, from ne not + æfreever
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for never

Old English næfre "never," compound of ne "not, no" (from PIE root *ne- "no, not;" see un-) + æfre "ever" (see ever). Early used as an emphatic form of not (as still in never mind). Old English, unlike its modern descendant, had the useful custom of attaching ne to words to create their negatives, as in nabban for na habban "not to have."

Italian giammai, French jamais, Spanish jamas are from Latin iam "already" + magis "more;" thus literally "at any time, ever," originally with a negative, but this has been so thoroughly absorbed in sense as to be formally omitted.

Phrase never say die "don't despair" is from 1818. Never Never Land is first attested in Australia as a name for the uninhabited northern part of Queensland (1884), perhaps so called because anyone who had gone there once never wished to return. Meaning "imaginary, illusory or utopian place" first attested 1900 in American English.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Idioms and Phrases with never
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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