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[nil] /nɪl/
nothing; naught; zero.
having no value or existence:
His credit rating is nil.
Origin of nil
1805-15; < Latin nīl, variant (by apocope) of nīlum, contraction of nihilum nothing, equivalent to ni (variant of ne not) + hīlum trifle

nil admirari

[neel ahd-mee-rah-ree; English nil ad-mi-rair-ahy, -rair-ee] /ˈnil ˌɑd miˈrɑ ri; English ˈnɪl ˌæd mɪˈrɛər aɪ, -ˈrɛər i/
to wonder at nothing.

nil desperandum

[neel des-pe-rahn-doo m; English nil des-puh-ran-duh m] /ˈnil ˌdɛs pɛˈrɑn dʊm; English ˈnɪl ˌdɛs pəˈræn dəm/
never despair.

nil sine numine

[neel sin-e noo-mi-ne; English nil sin-ee noo-mi-nee, nyoo-] /nil ˈsɪn ɛ ˈnu mɪ nɛ; English nɪl ˈsɪn i ˈnu mɪ ni, ˈnyu-/
nothing without the divine will: motto of Colorado. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for nil
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • It will be noticed by the most careless reader that the evidence is nil.

    Historic Oddities Sabine Baring-Gould
  • At Dover the dock-people had generously charged me “nil” for dues.

  • nil desperandum is the watch-word which flashes down the ranks of our men, even in the tightest corners.

    With The Immortal Seventh Division E. J. Kennedy and the Lord Bishop of Winchester
  • Also, I discovered that their morality, where business was concerned, was nil.

  • We sat down to breakfast together, although, as he could speak no English and I could speak no Dutch, the conversation was nil.

    South African Memories Lady Sarah Wilson
British Dictionary definitions for nil


another word for nothing: used esp in the scoring of certain games
Word Origin
C19: from Latin

nil desperandum

/ˈnɪl ˌdɛspəˈrændəm/
sentence substitute
never despair
Word Origin
from Latin, literally: nothing to be despaired of
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 nil

"nothing," 1833, from Latin nil, contraction of nihil, nihilum "nothing, not at all; in vain," from ne- "not" (see un-) + hilum "small thing, trifle," of unknown origin.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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nil in Technology

/nil/ 1. New Implementation of Lisp. A language intended to be the successor of MacLisp. A large Lisp, implemented mostly in VAX assembly language. A forerunner of Common LISP.
["NIL: A Perspective", Jon L. White, MACSYMA Users' Conf Proc, 1979].
2. Network Implementation Language. Strom & Yemini, TJWRC, IBM. Implementation of complex networking protocols in a modular fashion.
["NIL: An Integrated Language and System for Distributed Programming", R. Strom et al, SIGPLAN Notices 18(6):73-82 (June 1983)].
3. Empty list or False. In Lisp, the empty list (or "nil list") is used to represent the Boolean value False. This is possible because Lisp is not typed. True is represented by the special atom "t".
4. Spoken in reply to a question, particularly one asked using the "-P" convention it means "No". Most hackers assume this derives simply from LISP, but NIL meaning "no" was well-established among radio hams decades before LISP existed. The historical connection between early hackerdom and the ham radio world was strong enough that this may have been an influence.
[Jargon File]

The Free On-line Dictionary of Computing, © Denis Howe 2010
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Related Abbreviations for nil


nothing, I have nothing for you (shortwave transmission)
The American Heritage® Abbreviations Dictionary, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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