nothing; naught; zero.


having no value or existence: His credit rating is nil.

Nearby words

  1. nikolaus von cusa,
  2. nikolayev,
  3. nikolsky's sign,
  4. nikon,
  5. nikopol,
  6. nil admirari,
  7. nil desperandum,
  8. nil return,
  9. nil sine numine,
  10. nile

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]


to wonder at nothing.

nil desperandum

[neel des-pe-rahn-doo m; English nil des-puh-ran-duh m]


never despair. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for nil

British Dictionary definitions for nil



another word for nothing: used esp in the scoring of certain games

Word Origin for nil

C19: from Latin

nil desperandum

sentence substitute

never despair

Word Origin for nil desperandum

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

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