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  1. (a negative used to express dissent, denial, or refusal, as in response to a question or request)
  2. (used to emphasize or introduce a negative statement): Not a single person came to the party, no, not a one.
  3. not in any degree or manner; not at all (used with a comparative): He is no better.
  4. not a (used before an adjective to convey the opposite of the adjective's meaning): His recovery was no small miracle.
  1. not a (used before a noun to convey the opposite of the noun's meaning): She's no beginner on the ski slopes.
noun, plural noes, nos.
  1. an utterance of the word “no.”
  2. a denial or refusal: He responded with a definite no.
  3. a negative vote or voter: The noes have it.
verb (used with object)
  1. to reject, refuse approval, or express disapproval of.
verb (used without object)
  1. to express disapproval.
  1. no can do, Informal. it can't be done.

Origin of no1

before 900; Middle English; Old English nā, equivalent to ne not + ā ever (see ay1)
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018
British Dictionary definitions for no can do



noun plural No or Noh
  1. the stylized classic drama of Japan, developed in the 15th century or earlier, using music, dancing, chanting, elaborate costumes, and themes from religious stories or myths

Word Origin

from Japanese talent, from Chinese neng


  1. Lake No a lake in South Sudan, where the Bahr el Jebel (White Nile) is joined by the Bahr el Ghazal. Area: about 103 sq km (40 sq miles)


the chemical symbol for
  1. nobelium


sentence substitute
  1. used to express denial, disagreement, refusal, disapproval, disbelief, or acknowledgment of negative statements
  2. used with question intonation to query a previous negative statement, as in disbeliefAlfred isn't dead yet. No?
noun plural noes or nos
  1. an answer or vote of no
  2. (often plural) a person who votes in the negative
  3. the noes have it there is a majority of votes in the negative
  4. not take no for an answer to continue in a course of action despite refusals
Compare yes, aye 2

Word Origin

Old English nā, from ne not, no + ā ever; see ay 1


  1. not any, not a, or not onethere's no money left; no card in the file
  2. not by a long way; not at allshe's no youngster
  3. (followed by comparative adjectives and adverbs) notno fewer than forty men; no more quickly than before
  4. no go See go 1 (def. 74)

Word Origin

Old English nā, changed from nān none 1


the internet domain name for
  1. Norway
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

Word Origin and History for no can do


"negative reply," early 13c., from Old English na (adv.) "no, never, not at all," from ne "not, no" + a "ever." First element from Proto-Germanic *ne (cf. Old Norse, Old Frisian, Old High German ne, Gothic ni "not"), from PIE root *ne "no, not" (see un-). Second element from PIE *aiw- "vital force, life, long life, eternity" (see aye (2)).

As an adjective meaning "not any" (c.1200) it is reduced from Old English nan (see none), the final -n omitted first before consonants and then altogether. As a noun from c.1300. Phrase no can do "it is not possible" is attested from 1827, a locution of English-speaking Chinese noted 19c. in China, Australia and West Coast of U.S.

We repeated our advice again and again, but got no answer but a loud horse-laugh, and their national maxim of No can do: Europe fashion no do in China. ["Reminiscences of a Voyage to and from China," in "Paxton's Horticultural Register," London, 1836]

Construction no X, no Y attested from 1530s (in no peny no pardon). No problem as an interjection of assurance first attested 1963. No way as an expression meaning "it can't be done" is attested by 1968.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

no can do in Medicine


  1. The symbol for the elementnobelium

no can do in Science


  1. The symbol for nobelium.

Idioms and Phrases with no can do

no can do


In addition to the idioms beginning with no

also see:

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.