Definition of never in English:



  • 1At no time in the past or future; not ever.

    ‘they had never been camping in their lives’
    ‘I will never ever forget it’
    • ‘Throughout all this he never ever showed any remorse or any emotion for what he had done.’
    • ‘She leapt out of bed and made him swear never ever to say anything like that again or it would put her off.’
    • ‘We should not be so foolish as to believe these things will never return in the future.’
    • ‘Nothing like this has ever happened in the area before and probably never will again.’
    • ‘She could never have such faith in the future, and that is why she chose not to have children.’
    • ‘Flora also talks of her hopes for the future and how she feels about the father she has never met.’
    • ‘I used to drive past it all the time in a previous job but never went into the grounds.’
    • ‘He had never been late for training and if he was ever running late he would ring to let us know.’
    • ‘He said he'd never had any experience with this and no one had ever raised this before.’
    • ‘There was never a shortage in the past and it's too early to blame the lack of kids out playing.’
    • ‘All very spooky and enough to make you never want to go near some parts of the Park ever again.’
    • ‘William had been on their minds ever since he left but he was never a topic between them.’
    • ‘I've taken a lot of trips but never something that's taken so much to get to one place.’
    • ‘My visits to the cinema never stretch beyond the odd foray to the Glasgow film theatre.’
    • ‘It was a decade of my life that I will always hold dear to my heart and a time that will never be forgotten.’
    • ‘According to them we never think about money and don't even know what an overdraft is.’
    • ‘He had never told his parents and only many years later told relatives what happened.’
    • ‘Luke lives with his parents and grandparents on a farm that has never been painted.’
    • ‘By the time four days had elapsed I just thought that was it and I would never see it again.’
    • ‘She said she has never heard of a single errant cyclist being brought to book in Kingston.’
    at no time, not at any time, not ever, not once, on no occasion
    View synonyms
  • 2Not at all.

    ‘he never turned up’
    • ‘The Prime Minister has never been one to let a past friendship get in the way of making a new ally.’
    • ‘His putt never troubles the hole and it slips a few feet past for another difficult putt.’
    • ‘He certainly would never have got permission for a hotel, or even a six bedroom house.’
    • ‘Though never a love match, by then her affection had grown for the man two years her senior.’
    not at all, certainly not, not for a moment, not in any circumstances, not under any circumstances, in no circumstances, under no circumstances, on no account
    View synonyms
    1. 2.1British informal as exclamation (expressing surprise) surely not.
      ‘What, you, Annabel? Never!’
      • ‘What me? Never!’


    never a one
    • Not one.

      ‘there are no paintings, never a one’
      • ‘Never did a sheep wander away, never a one was attacked by wolves, never a one lost in foul weather.’
      • ‘Through friends and family I have heard many stories of Holly with never a one being bad.’
      • ‘For all that, there's never a one of the fine fellows a word of his wouldn't send scuttling into the nearest rat-hole.’
      • ‘And never a one of the fifty to sneer at a rival bride.’
      • ‘I have had scores of amateur photographers on the Craigs, including many meenisters, and most of them have taken my likeness and promised to send me a copy, but never a one has reached me.’
      • ‘The Dorset dialect jingle asks for a husband, and finishes by hoping for a good one, but anyone better than never a one.’
      • ‘On, and on, and on the examples go, never a weak moment, never a lost sentence, never a word out of place - and never a one of those words mattering in the least, never a one of them aimed at any purpose but their own light comedy, never a one of them anything but wasted.’
      • ‘There lived a King and Queen, who lamented day by day that they had no children, and yet never a one was born’
      • ‘I asked her whether she would have a new one or an old one; she said, a second-hand one; I told her we had never a one; but my mother called out and said, we have a second-hand cotton one.’
    well I never! (or well I never did!)
    • Expressing surprise or indignation.

      ‘Well I never—that's not like you!’
      • ‘There was the mother in her alpine attire staring rigidly ahead muttering ‘well I never!’’


Old English nǣfre, from ne ‘not’ + ǣfre ‘ever’.