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  1. (used to express negation, denial, refusal, or prohibition): You must not do that. It's not far from here.
  2. U.S. Slang. (used jocularly as a postpositive interjection to indicate that a previous statement is untrue): I just love working overtime without pay. Not!
  1. not so much, Informal. (an expression of dismissive scorn, ambivalence, or skepticism): Attractive? Yes. Smart? Not so much. Is the world coming to an end? Yeah, not so much.

Origin of not

1275–1325; Middle English; weak variant of nought
Can be confusedknot not


  1. a Boolean operator that returns a positive result if its operand is negative and a negative result if its operand is positive.


  1. variant of noto- before a vowel.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018
British Dictionary definitions for not


    1. used to negate the sentence, phrase, or word that it modifiesI will not stand for it
    2. (in combination)they cannot go
  1. not that (conjunction) which is not to say or suppose thatI expect to lose the game — not that I mind Also (archaic): not but what
sentence substitute
  1. used to indicate denial, negation, or refusalcertainly not

Word Origin

C14 not, variant of nought nothing, from Old English nāwiht, from no + wiht creature, thing. See naught, nought


combining form
  1. a variant of noto-
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 not

negative particle, mid-13c., unstressed variant of noht, naht "in no way" (see naught). As an interjection to negate what was said before or reveal it as sarcasm, it is first attested 1900; popularized 1989 by "Wayne's World" sketches on "Saturday Night Live" TV show. To not know X from Y (one's ass from one's elbow, shit from Shinola, etc.) was a construction first attested c.1930. Double negative construction not un- was derided by Orwell, but is persistent and ancient in English, popular with Milton and the Anglo-Saxon poets.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with not


In addition to the idioms beginning with not

also see:

For verbal phrases also see undercan'tcouldn'twouldn't.

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