Meaning of NEVER in English

nev ‧ er S1 W1 /ˈnevə $ -ər/ BrE AmE adverb

[ Language: Old English ; Origin: næfre , from ne- 'not' + æfre 'ever' ]

1 . not at any time, or not once:

He’s never been to Australia.

I’m never going back there again, not as long as I live.

It is never too late to give up smoking.

never had/did/was etc

Never had she been so confused.

never ever (=used to emphasize what you are saying)

I’ll never ever forgive him for leaving me.

Never again (=never after a particular time) would he return to Naples.

never in all my life (=used to emphasize how bad something was)

Never in all my life have I felt so humiliated.

never for one moment (=used to emphasize that you never thought something)

She had never for one moment imagined that it could happen to her.

somebody/something has never been known to do something (=used to say that something is strange because it has never happened before)

Max had never been known to leave home without telling anyone.


Do not use another negative word (eg 'not') with never . If you use 'not', use ever :

She might never forgive you OR She might not ever forgive you (NOT She might not never forgive you).

2 . you never know spoken used to say that something which seems unlikely may happen:

Try it! You never know, you might be lucky.

3 . I never knew (that) spoken used to mean that you did not know something until now:

I never knew you played the guitar!

4 . never so much as used to emphasize that someone did not do something, especially when this seems surprising:

I do everything for him, and he’s never so much as made me a cup of coffee.

5 . that would/will never do spoken used to say that you would not want something to happen:

Someone might discover our secret and that would never do.

6 . never! British English spoken used when you are very surprised by something:

‘They’re getting married next month.’ ‘Never!’

He’s never going to cycle all the way to Manchester!

Well I never! I wouldn’t have thought she was that old!

7 . (no) I never! British English spoken used to say that you did not do something bad that someone has said you did. Many teachers think this is not correct English:

‘You cheated, didn’t you?’ ‘No, I never.’

8 . never say never informal used to say that you should not say that you will never do something, because there is always a small possibility that you might do it

9 . never say die used to encourage someone not to give up

10 . never fear spoken old-fashioned used to tell someone not to worry:

She’ll be back, never fear.

⇨ never the twain shall meet at ↑ twain (2)

• • •


▪ never not at any time, or not once:

Ali had never seen snow before.


I’ll never forget that day.

▪ never ever spoken used to emphasize that you mean never:

Do you promise never ever to tell anyone else about this?

▪ not once used to emphasize that you are surprised or annoyed because someone never did something:

She’s never said thank you – not once.


Jo hasn’t emailed me once in six months.

▪ not/never for a moment used to emphasize that you never had a particular thought or idea:

‘Did you ever suspect he was cheating on you?’ ‘No, not for a moment.’


Not for one moment did she think it was a trap.

▪ not/never in a million years spoken used to say that it is completely impossible that something could ever happen:

Dad will never agree to that – not in a million years!

▪ at no time formal used to emphasize that something never happened:

At no time did anyone suggest that the drug was dangerous.


At no time were the prisoners mistreated.

Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English.      Longman - Словарь современного английского языка.