[ nev-er ]
See synonyms for never on
  1. not ever; at no time: Such an idea never occurred to me.

  2. not at all; absolutely not: never mind;This will never do.

  1. to no extent or degree: He was never the wiser for his experience.

Idioms about never

  1. never cease to amaze. See entry at never cease to amaze.

  2. never mind, don't bother; don't concern yourself.

Origin of never

First recorded before 900; from Middle English, from Old English nǣfre, equivalent to ne “not” + ǣfre ever; cf. neither, nought

Words Nearby never Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use never in a sentence

  • Bessires was included because he would never win it at any later date, but his doglike devotion made him a priceless subordinate.

    Napoleon's Marshals | R. P. Dunn-Pattison
  • Now, it immediately occurred to Davy that he had never in his whole life had all the plums he wanted at any one time.

    Davy and The Goblin | Charles E. Carryl
  • Arches more graceful in form, or better fitted to defy the assaults of time, I have never seen.

    Glances at Europe | Horace Greeley
  • The policemen looked dull and heavy, as if never again would any one be criminal, and as if they had come to know it.

    Bella Donna | Robert Hichens
  • The King of Delhi had a hunting-lodge somewhere in the locality, but he had never seen the place.

    The Red Year | Louis Tracy

British Dictionary definitions for never


/ (ˈnɛvə) /

adverb, sentence substitute
  1. at no time; not ever

  2. certainly not; by no means; in no case

  1. Also: well I never! surely not!

Origin of never

Old English nǣfre, from ne not + æfre ever

usage For never

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

Other 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.