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 Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Related Words for never


Examples from the Web for never

Contemporary Examples of never

Historical Examples of never

  • I have never seen the soul withdrawn without a struggle with the body.


    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.


    Lydia Maria Child

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


    Lydia Maria Child

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


    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!

Word Origin for never

Old English nǣfre, from ne not + æfre ever


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
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 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

Idioms and Phrases with never


In addition to the idioms beginning with never

  • never a dull moment
  • never fear
  • never give a sucker an even break
  • never had it so good, one
  • never hear the end of
  • never mind
  • never miss a trick
  • never put off until tomorrow
  • never say die
  • never say never

also see:

  • better late than never
  • it never rains but it pours
  • lightning never strikes twice
  • now or never
  • watched pot never boils
  • wonders will never cease
  • you never can tell
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.