1 of 2


used as a function word to make negative a group of words or a word
used as a function word to stand for the negative of a preceding group of words
is sometimes hard to see and sometimes not


2 of 2


: a logical operator (see operator sense 3a) that produces a statement that is the inverse (see inverse entry 2 sense 3a) of an input statement

Example Sentences

Adverb He was standing not six feet away from me. The bullet passed not five inches from my head!
Recent Examples on the Web
Locals sign up for the event, but don't be surprised if celebrities make an appearance. Jessica Hice, Indianapolis Star, 6 July 2017 Can't wait to see this come to life on the big screen. Sarah Wu, Teen Vogue, 6 July 2017 Exercise isn’t boring with these four innovative (and wacky) fitness routines. Alexandra Sifferlin, Time, 6 July 2017 Veil survived the Holocaust, but her mother, father and brother did not. Brigit Katz, Smithsonian, 6 July 2017 And the bloodbath won’t end soon: this winter, a report by Moody’s Investors Service found that debt maturities were on their way to record levels in the next five years. Phil Wahba,, 6 July 2017 The June coaching change didn't sacrifice a good recruiting class. Bill Landis,, 6 July 2017 Still, as Deadline noted on Friday, True Detective has not received the formal green light for a third season. Esquire Editors, Esquire, 6 July 2017 Their joint celebration on the Fourth isn't Affleck and Garner's first reunion since filing for divorce. Erica Gonzales, Harper's BAZAAR, 5 July 2017 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'not.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Word History



Middle English, alteration of nought, from nought, pronoun — more at naught



First Known Use


13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1947, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of not was in the 13th century

Dictionary Entries Near not

Cite this Entry

“Not.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 4 Dec. 2022.

Kids Definition

used to make a word or group of words negative
the books are not here
used to stand for the negative of a group of words that comes before
is sometimes hard to see and sometimes not

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