Never in different languages

Never in Different Languages

Discover 'Never' in 134 Languages: Dive into Translations, Hear Pronunciations, and Uncover Cultural Insights.

Updated on March 6, 2024

The word 'never' carries a significant weight in our vocabulary, expressing a sense of finality and strong determination. It's a word that transcends cultural boundaries and is universally understood, making it a crucial component in communication across the globe. But have you ever wondered how 'never' is translated in different languages?

Delving into the translations of 'never' offers a fascinating glimpse into the nuances of various cultures and languages. For instance, in Spanish, 'never' translates to 'nunca,' while in French, it becomes 'jamais.' In German, 'never' is 'nie,' and in Japanese, it's 'いつもございません (itsumo gozaimasen).'

Understanding the translation of 'never' in different languages not only enriches our linguistic abilities but also deepens our cultural appreciation. It's a small step towards global understanding, breaking down barriers and fostering connections.


Never in Sub-Saharan African Languages

Afrikaansnooit nie
The Afrikaans word "nooit nie" is a calque from Dutch "nooit niet" which also means "never".
"በጭራሽ" means "never" and is also the name of a type of tree that grows in Ethiopia.
Ba, derived from the Proto-Chadic verb *bā ('to prevent'), means 'never', 'impossible' or 'won't'.
Igbo word "mgbe" originates from the phrase "m ga ebe," meaning "will not be there".
The Malagasy word "tsy" also means "not" or "without"
Nyanja (Chichewa)ayi
The word "ayi" in Nyanja is derived from the Proto-Bantu root "*-yik-, -tik-", which means "to finish" or "to come to an end". The word "ayi" is also used in some contexts to mean "already" or "formerly". Additionally, in some regions of Malawi, the word "ayi" is used to refer to an older sister or female cousin, as a term of respect.
'Kwete' (never) is sometimes interpreted by speakers as 'there is not' (kuve nete), from the root -te (which also occurs in the word 'nete' (net).
"marna" originates from the same root as "dhamaan" (all), suggesting a notion of "all-encompassing" or "completely done."
Sesothole ka mohla
"Le ka mohla" can also mean "no longer".
The Swahili word "kamwe" has alternate meanings of "absolutely not" or "by no means."
The word "soze" also means "to be finished" or "to be completed" in Xhosa.
The Yoruba word 'rara' can also mean 'constantly' or 'incessantly'.
The word "angikaze" can also mean "nevertheless" or "although" in Zulu.
Kinyarwandanta na rimwe
Lingalaata moke te
Sepedile gatee
Twi (Akan)da

Never in North African & Middle Eastern Languages

The Arabic word "أبدا" (abada) comes from the root word "بَدَوَ" (bada'a), meaning "to perish" or "to cease to exist."
Hebrewלעולם לא
The Hebrew word "לעולם לא" ("never") literally means "not for the world".
The word "هیڅکله" in Pashto is derived from the Persian word "هیچ گاه" and is often used to express "never" or "at no time".
The Arabic word "أبدا" (abada) comes from the root word "بَدَوَ" (bada'a), meaning "to perish" or "to cease to exist."

Never in Western European Languages

"Asnjanëherë" derives from the Proto-Indo-European word *h₁neǵwʰeros, meaning "no one at all," similar to the English "nowhere" and "nevermore."
Basqueinoiz ez
The Basque word "inoiz ez" derives from "inoiz" (ever) and "ez" (not), and can also mean "at no time" or "never before".
The Catalan word "mai" derives from the Latin "numquam" meaning "not ever," and is found in other Romance languages like French and Italian.
The word "nikada" is a negative adverb with possible origins stemming from proto-Slavic roots *ni and *kad meaning "not ever".
The word "aldrig" derives from Old Norse "ǫldregi" and is composed of "ǫld" (age) and "regi" (course, track), hence "across ages".
The Dutch word "nooit" is thought to derive from "ni ooit" meaning "not even" or "not ever".
The word 'never' originally meant 'not even once' from the Old English words 'næfre'.
The word "jamais" derives from the Latin "iam magis", meaning "now more", signifying a future event that will never happen, hence "never".
The Frisian word "nea" is cognate with the English word "nigh," and its original meaning was "close in time," but over time its meaning shifted to "not happening in any future time."
The word "nunca" also means "not once" in Galician.
Germannoch nie
Noch nie can also mean "not yet" or "anymore", especially in southern German dialects.
In Old Norse, the term aldrei referred to an "age" of existence and could also signify a period of time between two events.
The Irish word "riamh" not only means "never" but also "always" in certain contexts, a phenomenon known as antanaclasis.
"Mai" in Italian can also mean "always" when used in a negative sense, as in "non lo farò mai" (I will never do it).
The word "ni" in Luxembourgish can also mean "not" or "no".
The word "qatt" can also mean "at all" or "ever" in Maltese.
The word "aldri" in Norwegian can also mean "not any longer" or "not at all".
Portuguese (Portugal, Brazil)nunca
In Portuguese, "nunca" also means "at no time" or "not even once".
Scots Gaelicriamh
The Old Irish word "riam" meant "ever".
"Nun" - from Old English, meaning "now" or "at this moment"
The Swedish word "aldrig" is etymologically related to "alltid" and "alder", and it can be broken down as "all tid", or "all time".
The Welsh word "byth" can also mean "eternity, forever," deriving from the Proto-Celtic word "bitiyo-," meaning "age, lifetime."

Never in Eastern European Languages

The word "ніколі" in Belarusian also means "no time"}
The word "nikad" in Bosnian can also mean "nevermore" or "by no means."
The Bulgarian word "никога" is derived from the Proto-Slavic word "nikъгда", which originally meant "at no time" or "not once".
The word "nikdy" derives from the Proto-Slavic "ne kedy" meaning "at no time," and is related to words meaning "no" and "time" in other Slavic languages.
Estonianmitte kunagi
In Võro, a related dialect of Estonian, "mitte kunagi" means "not yet" instead of "never."
Finnishei koskaan
The Finnish word "ei koskaan" literally means "not ever" and is composed of "ei" (not) and "koskaan" (ever).
In Old Hungarian the word "soha" meant "always" while it's opposite "mindig" meant "rarely" or "never".
The word "nekad" in Latvian comes from the Proto-Indo-European root "nek-," meaning "not" or "without."
The word "niekada" in Lithuanian may also be used to express a strong negation or refusal
The Macedonian word "никогаш" is derived from the Proto-Slavic word *nikъdy, which also means "never" in most other Slavic languages.
The word "nigdy" is derived from the Proto-Slavic word *nikъdy, which also means "not at all" or "in no way".
The Romanian word "nu" derives from the Latin "nunc", meaning "now" or "at present".
The Russian word «никогда» originally meant «not at anytime», but acquired the meaning «never» in the 17th century.
The Serbian word "никад" can also mean "nowhere" or "at no time".
"Nikdy" comes from Proto-Slavic *nikъdy, meaning "at no time". It also means "not ever" and "in no case".
A word that, despite its appearance, has no relation to the Russian word “никогда” with the same meaning.
The word "ніколи" is derived from the Proto-Slavic word *nikoly, a compound of *ni + *koly, meaning "not" + "time".

Never in South Asian Languages

Bengaliকখনই না
Bengali "কখনই না" also means "not only". This is similar to the English "never" meaning "not at all" and "not ever".
The Gujarati word "ક્યારેય" ("never") can also be used to mean "once" in negative sentences.
Hindiकभी नहीँ
The word "कभी नहीँ" (kabhi nahin) is derived from the Sanskrit word "नैव" (naiva), which means "not even" or "in no way".
The word "ಎಂದಿಗೂ" can also mean "always" in certain contexts, particularly in poetry or literature.
The word "ഒരിക്കലും" can mean "never" or "ever" depending on the context.
Marathiकधीही नाही
In Marathi, the word "कधीही नाही" can also mean "at no time" or "not ever".
Nepaliकहिले पनि हैन
Punjabiਕਦੇ ਨਹੀਂ
Sinhala (Sinhalese)කවදාවත්
The word "කවදාවත්" is a combination of the words "කවද" (time) and "වත්" (even), which literally means "at any time". However, it has come to mean "never" over time.
"ஒருபோதும்" also has alternate meanings as "without", "devoid", and "lack".
Urduکبھی نہیں

Never in East Asian Languages

Chinese (Simplified)决不
"决不" also means "firmly" and "resolutely".
Chinese (Traditional)決不
The word "決不" can also mean "to make a firm decision" or "to be determined to do something".
It is a negative conjugation of the verb "きる" (to cut), meaning "(a situation) will not be cut off."
못 can also mean 'lack' or 'cannot' and is often paired with verbs to express the speaker's inability to do something.
Mongolianхэзээ ч
Хэзээ ч is also used to mean "not yet" or "never mind".
Myanmar (Burmese)ဘယ်တော့မှမ

Never in South East Asian Languages

Indonesiantidak pernah
The Indonesian phrase 'tidak pernah' is derived from the words 'tidak' meaning 'no' and 'pernah' meaning 'ever'.
Javaneseora nate
The Javanese word "ora nate" not only means "never," but also refers to past events that will not recur.
The Khmer word "មិនដែល" can also mean "not yet" or "never will" depending on the context.
ບໍ່ເຄີຍ is also a verb meaning “to have no occasion” or “to not have the chance to”.
Malaytidak pernah
The word 'tidak pernah' consists of the prefix 'ti-' (marking negation) and the reduplicated verb 'ada' (exist). Literally, it means 'not exist' or 'never exist'.
In Thai, 'ไม่เคย' does not only mean 'never', but can also refer to 'not having yet experienced something'.
Vietnamesekhông bao giờ
The word "không bao giờ" literally means "not eternally".
Filipino (Tagalog)hindi kailanman

Never in Central Asian Languages

Azerbaijaniheç vaxt
The word
"Ешқашан" is derived from the Persian "eich ka-chān" meaning "not even when"
Kyrgyzэч качан
The Kyrgyz word "эч качан" is composed of the words "эч" ("no") and "качан" ("when"), thus emphasizing the absolute absence of a possibility.
Tajikҳеҷ гоҳ
ҳеҷ гоҳ is often translated as one word: "never," but is more literally "not" and "time."
Turkmenhiç haçan
Uzbekhech qachon
The word "hech qachon" is a combination of the words "hech" (no) and "qachon" (time), literally meaning "no time".
Uyghurھەرگىز بولمايدۇ

Never in Pacific Languages

Hawaiianʻaʻole loa
ʻAʻole is a negative particle, while loa means 'long' or 'far', thus ʻaʻole loa emphasizes the idea of remoteness in time
Maorikaua rawa
The Maori word 'kaua rawa' is composed of the prohibitive particle 'kaua' and 'rawa', which can also mean 'completely' or 'very'.
Samoanleai lava
"Leai lava" is composed of the negative particle "leai" and the modal particle "lava", meaning it expresses both negation and emphasis.
Tagalog (Filipino)hindi kailanman
The phrase 'hindi kailanman' can also be used to express a sense of impossibility or disbelief, similar to the English phrase 'not even once'.

Never in American Indigenous Languages


Never in International Languages

The word "neniam" can be traced back to the Latin "numquam" (never), from which it has a direct derivation
Numquam can also mean 'in no way,' or 'by no means' in Latin.

Never in Others Languages

“Ποτέ” (“never”) derives from the ancient Greek negation particle “οὐ” (“not”) and the interrogative particle “τι” (“what”).
Hmongyeej tsis
"Yeej tsis" (lit. "not now") is a versatile Hmong term often used colloquially to mean "never" or "not happening."
The word "qet" in Kurdish, meaning "never," is derived from the Proto-Indo-European root *kʷet- "to be silent," suggesting a connection between the concept of silence and the idea of eternity or a state of non-existence.
The word 'asla' might be derived from the Arabic word 'asal', meaning 'origin' or 'root'.
The word "soze" also means "to be finished" or "to be completed" in Xhosa.
Yiddish קיינמאָל derives from the combination of קיין (“no”) + מאָל (“time”) suggesting the meaning of "not any time"
The word "angikaze" can also mean "nevertheless" or "although" in Zulu.
Assameseকেতিয়াও নহয়
Bhojpuriकब्बो ना
Dogriकदें नेईं
Filipino (Tagalog)hindi kailanman
Ilocanosaan uray inton kaano
Krionɔ ɛva
Kurdish (Sorani)هەرگیز
Maithiliकखनो नहि
Meiteilon (Manipuri)ꯑꯣꯏꯊꯣꯛꯂꯔꯣꯏꯗꯕ
Mizongai lo
Odia (Oriya)କେବେ ନୁହେଁ
Quechuamana haykaqpas
Sanskritकदापि न
Tatarберкайчан да

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