Nothing in different languages

Nothing in Different Languages

Discover 'Nothing' in 134 Languages: Dive into Translations, Hear Pronunciations, and Uncover Cultural Insights.

Updated on March 6, 2024

The word 'nothing' is a simple, two-syllable term, yet it carries profound implications. It represents the absence of something, a void, or emptiness. However, the cultural significance and translation of 'nothing' in different languages can be intriguingly complex.

Throughout history, 'nothing' has been a source of fascination for philosophers, scientists, and artists alike. In literature, Shakespeare often used 'nothing' to denote something profound, as seen in his play 'Much Ado About Nothing.' In mathematics, 'nothing' is represented by zero, a concept that revolutionized the field and led to the development of modern computers.

Understanding the translation of 'nothing' in different languages can offer unique insights into various cultures. For instance, in Japanese, 'nothing' is 'nani mo,' while in Spanish, it's 'nada.' In German, 'nothing' is 'nichts,' and in Russian, 'nichevo.'

Join us as we explore the fascinating world of 'nothing' in different languages and cultures.


Nothing in Sub-Saharan African Languages

"Niks": Cognate to German "nix" or Dutch "niets", meaning nothing or zero.
The word "መነም" also signifies emptiness or nullity in the context of philosophical discourse
Hausaba komai
In Hausa, "ba komai" also means "it does not matter" or "it is irrelevant."
Igboọ dịghị ihe
In Igbo, ọ dịghị ihe can also mean "there is no problem" or "it is of no consequence."
Malagasyna inona na inona
The word "na inona na inona" derives from the word "inona," meaning "what" or "which."
Nyanja (Chichewa)palibe
The word 'palibe' in Nyanja is derived from the verb 'liba', meaning 'to take' or 'to possess', and the negative prefix 'pa-', indicating absence or negation.
Shona "hapana" is a contraction of the phrase "hapa pana" which means "there is no here".
The term
Sesothoha ho letho
The word 'ha ho letho' in Sesotho, meaning 'nothing', is thought to stem from the phrase 'ha ho letho le teng', meaning 'there is nothing that exists'.
Swahilihakuna chochote
The Swahili phrase "hakuna chochote" has a root "chochote" meaning "anything". Thus, "hakuna chochote" is an emphatic rendering of "nothing".
Possibly akin to the Zulu "-khoma" (empty).
Ohunkohun derives from the phrase 'ohun kan kohun', meaning 'not even a thing'.
The word "lutho" in Zulu can also mean "vanity" or "emptiness".
Ewenaneke o
Lingalaeloko moko te
Sepediga go selo
Twi (Akan)hwee

Nothing in North African & Middle Eastern Languages

Arabicلا شيئ
لا شيئ also means "the nothing" in Sufi and Shia Islamic philosophy
Hebrewשום דבר
The Hebrew word "שום דבר" literally means "no thing".
Pashtoهیڅ نه
The Pashto word "هیڅ نه" also means "not at all" and "never".
Arabicلا شيئ
لا شيئ also means "the nothing" in Sufi and Shia Islamic philosophy

Nothing in Western European Languages

Albanian “asgjë” (nothing) derives from Proto-Albanian *as-gje (“without that”) and is related to “gje” (that).
Basqueezer ez
Derived from ezer and ez, which mean `loss` and `absence` respectively
The word "res" in Catalan comes from the Latin "res" meaning "thing" or "matter".
Croatian word "ništa" is a contraction from "ni za što", which means "not [worth] anything."
Danishikke noget
The Danish word "ikke noget" literally translates into English as "not something"
In Afrikaans, the word "niets" also means "not" while in Dutch it means "nothing".
Nothing, from the Old English word "nā-þing", literally means "no-thing," and can also refer to an unspecified and often worthless person or thing.
The French word "rien" originally meant "a thing," but its meaning gradually shifted to "nothing" over time.
Frisian "neat" has cognates in many Germanic languages, meaning "need" or "lack".
In Galician, "nada" comes from the Latin "res nata", meaning "something born" or "creation".
The German word "nichts" is derived from the Middle High German "niht", meaning "not" and has cognates in English "naught" and "nought".
Ekkert is an Old Norse word, where 'ekki' means 'not' and 'ert' means 'there is'.
Irishrud ar bith
"Rud ar bith" literally means "anything in the world": "rud" (thing) + "ar bith" (in the world).
The word "niente" derives from the Latin "nec entem," meaning "not being" or "non-existence."
In Luxembourgish, "näischt" was originally an adjective meaning "inferior", before evolving into a negative pronoun meaning "nothing".
The Maltese word "xejn" is derived from the Arabic word "shay'n", meaning "thing" or "something", but has come to mean "nothing" in Maltese.
The word "ingenting" is derived from the Old Norse word "ekki", which also means "not" or "never".
Portuguese (Portugal, Brazil)nada
The Portuguese word "nada" is derived from the Latin word "natta" meaning "birth" or "origin", hinting at the concept of "nothingness" as the starting point of all things.
Scots Gaelicdad
The Gaelic word "dad" can also mean "father" or "dad" in English, as well as "nothing" or "worthless".
The word 'nada' in Spanish originates from the Latin 'nauta' meaning 'sailor', which evolved into 'navío' meaning 'ship' and eventually 'nada' signifying 'empty space' or 'nothingness'.
The Swedish word "ingenting" is a compound of "inte" (not) and "enting" (being), which was probably influenced by "nenting" (negation).
Welshdim byd
The Welsh word "dim byd" literally translates to "no world," further underscoring its all-encompassing meaning.

Nothing in Eastern European Languages

"Нічога" (nothing) can also mean "it's fine" or "no problem" in Belarusian.
In Bosnian, 'ništa' also signifies insignificance or worthlessness.
"Нищо" also means "worthless" or "useless" in Bulgarian, and is used in this sense in the phrase "нищо не струващ" (nichtso ne struvasht), meaning "worthless".
The Czech word nic (nothing) comes from the Proto-Slavic word *nečьto (something), which also meant nothing.
Estonianmitte midagi
The Estonian word "mitte midagi" comes from two parts: "mitte" (not) and "midagi" (anything), so it literally means "not anything."
Finnishei mitään
In addition to its common meaning of 'nothing,' 'ei mitään' can also be a dismissive response to questions.
"Semmi" derives from the Proto-Uralic root word "śem", which means "to die" or "to pass away."
In Polish, the word "kot" means "male cat", and in Latvian it is "kaķis", but the word "neko" is used for both "nothing" and "male cat"
The word "nieko" in Lithuanian is cognate with the Slavic word "nikto" ("nobody"), both ultimately deriving from the Proto-Indo-European word "ne-kʷo-s" ("not someone").
The word 'ништо' ('nothing') in Macedonian may derive from the Slavic word for 'thread,' 'string,' or 'line,' suggesting its original meaning as 'that which is broken off or has come to an end.
The word "nic" can also be used as a pronoun meaning "no one" or "nothing". It can also be used as an adjective meaning "worthless" or "insignificant."
The Romanian word "nimic" derives from the Latin phrase "nec unam micam," meaning "not even one crumb."
The Russian word "ничего" can also mean "it's okay".
The Serbian word for “nothing,” “ништа,” is a shortened form of the phrase “ни једне шта,” meaning “not a single thing.”
The word "nič" (nothing) also holds the meanings of "zero" and "nil", and has cognates in other Slavic languages.
The word "nič" in Slovenian can also mean "zilch" or "not a thing."
The Ukrainian word "нічого" also means "not at all", "it's no big deal", and "don't mention it".

Nothing in South Asian Languages

Bengaliকিছুই না
The Bengali word "কিছুই না" (kichhu na) originated from the phrase " কিছু কিছুতেই না " (kichhu kichhutei na), which has a strong emphasis on negation.
Gujaratiકંઈ નહીં
The Gujarati word "કંઈ નહીં" (pronounced "kun-ee nuh-hee") is sometimes used in a way that means "of no importance" or "it doesn't matter".
Hindiकुछ भी तो नहीं
कुछ भी तो नहीं literally means 'some anything not' and is essentially the antonym of 'कुछ नहीं' ('nothing'); it is also an informal idiom for 'of no/little value, significance, or consequence'
Kannadaಏನೂ ಇಲ್ಲ
The word "ಏನೂ ಇಲ್ಲ" (nothing) in Kannada can also be used to imply nothingness or futility.
The Malayalam word "ഒന്നുമില്ല" can also mean "one does not exist" or "there is no one."
Marathiकाहीही नाही
The Marathi word 'काहीही नाही' literally translates to 'something nothing', emphasizing the idea of absolute nothingness.
Nepaliकेहि छैन
The word केहि छैन, meaning "nothing" in Nepali, derives from the Sanskrit word "kecid", meaning "to vanish".
Punjabiਕੁਝ ਨਹੀਂ
The Punjabi word 'ਕੁਝ ਨਹੀਂ' is an idiomatic expression often used as a polite way to express unwillingness or refusal, similar to the English phrase 'not at all'.
Sinhala (Sinhalese)කිසිවක් නැත
Tamilஎதுவும் இல்லை
The word "ఏమిలేదు" can also mean "no worries" or "don't worry" in Telugu.
Urduکچھ نہیں
The word "کچھ نہیں" can also be used to express denial, such as "not at all" or "never."

Nothing in East Asian Languages

Chinese (Simplified)没有
没有 can also mean 'lacking' or 'without' and is often used in negative constructions.
Chinese (Traditional)沒有
"沒有" in some contexts can refer to a person, as in "there is no one"
The word "何もない" (nothing) is composed of the negation "無" (nothingness) and the particle "も" (also), implying an absence of multiple things and a sense of emptiness.
아무것도 comes from the native Korean elements 아무 (amu, "whoever") and 것 (geoseu, "thing").
Mongolianюу ч биш
The word “юу ч биш” in Mongolian literally means “not a thing” and is used to express the absence of anything.
Myanmar (Burmese)ဘာမှမ
ဘာမှမ may also carry the nuance of not caring in the sense that something doesn't matter.

Nothing in South East Asian Languages

Indonesiantidak ada
The word "tidak ada" in Indonesian comes from the Proto-Austronesian word *ti-ada* meaning "not-exist".
Javaneseora ana apa-apa
The word "ora ana apa-apa" is a compound word that literally means "there is nothing there".
The Khmer word "គ្មានអ្វីទេ" ("nothing") is cognate with the Sanskrit word "nihsvabhāva" meaning "having no self-nature or inherent existence."
Malaytiada apa-apa
In Javanese and Sundanese, 'tiada apa-apa' means 'there is something', opposite to its Malay meaning.
The Thai word "ไม่มีอะไร" (literal meaning: "not having anything") also means "it's nothing special/important" or "don't mention it".
Vietnamesekhông có gì
"Không có gì" literally means "not have what", but it can also be used to express "you're welcome" or "it's nothing".
Filipino (Tagalog)wala

Nothing in Central Asian Languages

Azerbaijaniheç nə
The word heç nə literally means "no thing" in Azerbaijani.
The word "ештеңе" (nothing) in Kazakh derives from "еш" (companion) and the negative suffix "теңе", which means that there is no one there.
Kyrgyzэч нерсе
The Kyrgyz word "эч нерсе" can also be used to express "not at all" or "never".
Tajikҳеҷ чиз
The word "ҳеҷ чиз" in Tajik comes from the Persian words "هیچ" meaning "none" and "چیز" meaning "thing".
Turkmenhiç zat
Uzbekhech narsa
The Uzbek word "hech narsa" can also mean "unimportant" or "unworthy of attention".
Uyghurھېچنېمە يوق

Nothing in Pacific Languages

Hawaiianmea ʻole
The Hawaiian word "mea ʻole" not only means "nothing," but also "unimportant" and "worthless."
The Maori word 'kahore' can also mean 'absence' or 'nonexistence'.
Samoanleai se mea
The Samoan word "leai se mea" can trace its origins to the Proto-Samoic language, where the Proto-Samoic form of "mea" was "moa" and "leai" meant "not".
Tagalog (Filipino)wala
The Tagalog word 'wala' (nothing) also has the meanings of 'not applicable', 'no one', 'none', and 'without'.

Nothing in American Indigenous Languages


Nothing in International Languages

The Esperanto word "nenio" is derived from the Latin "ne" (not) and "hilum" (a tiny thing), and can also mean "a trifle" or "a small matter".
"Nihil" stems from the Latin word "nīhilum," meaning "nothing," but can also refer to "emptiness," "worthlessness," or "unimportance."

Nothing in Others Languages

Τίποτα is a polysemous word in Greek. It derives from the ancient Greek verb τίπτω and can have multiple meanings including: nothing, something, anything.
Hmongtsis muaj dab tsi
The Hmong word "tsis muaj dab tsi" literally means "there is absolutely not anything".
The Kurdish word "netişt" is a contraction of the phrase "ne tişt", which means "what thing".
Turkishhiçbir şey değil
The word "hiçbir şey" literally means "no thing" in Turkish.
Possibly akin to the Zulu "-khoma" (empty).
The Yiddish word "גאָרנישט" ("gorneysht") is cognate with the German word "garnichts" and the Slavic word "nikogda," both meaning "nothing".
The word "lutho" in Zulu can also mean "vanity" or "emptiness".
Assameseএকো নাই
Bhojpuriकुछु ना
Dogriकिश नेईं
Filipino (Tagalog)wala
Kurdish (Sorani)هیچ
Maithiliकिछु नहि
Meiteilon (Manipuri)ꯀꯔꯤꯝꯇ ꯅꯠꯇꯕ
Odia (Oriya)କିଛି ନୁହେଁ
Quechuamana imapas
Sanskritकिमपि न
Tatarбернәрсә дә

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