Definitions for double negative

This page provides all possible meanings and translations of the word double negative

Random House Webster's College Dictionary

dou′ble neg′ative*(n.)

  1. a syntactic construction in which two negative words are used in the same clause to express a single negation.

    Category: Grammar

* Usage: The double negative was standard in English through the time of Shakespeare. In Modern English it is universally considered nonstandard: They never paid me no money. He didn't have nothing to do with it. In educated speech or writing, any and anything would be substituted for no and nothing. Certain uses of double negation, to express an affirmative, are fully standard: We cannot sit here and do nothing (meaning “we must do something”). In the not unlikely event that the bill passes, prices will rise (meaning the event is likely). See also hardly.

Origin of double negative:


Princeton's WordNet

  1. double negative(noun)

    an affirmative constructed from two negatives

    "A not unwelcome outcome"

  2. double negative(noun)

    a grammatically substandard but emphatic negative

    "I don't never go"


  1. double negative(Noun)

    A phrase in which there are two negative words or their compounds (e.g. no, not, never, none, etc), occasionally leading to ambiguity in the meaning, but necessary in some foreign languages.


  1. Double negative

    A double negative occurs when two forms of negation are used in the same sentence. Multiple negation is the more general term referring to the occurrence of more than one negative in a clause. In most logics and some languages, double negatives cancel one another and produce an affirmative sense; in other languages, doubled negatives intensify the negation. Languages where multiple negatives intensify each other are said to have negative concord. Portuguese, French, Persian, Russian, Ukrainian, and Spanish are examples of negative-concord languages, while Latin and German do not have negative concord. Standard English lacks negative concord, but it was normal in Old English and Middle English, and some modern dialects do have it, although its usage in English is often stigmatized. Languages without negative concord typically have negative polarity items that are used in place of additional negatives when another negating word already occurs. Examples are "ever", "anything" and "anyone" in the sentence "I haven't ever owed anything to anyone". Note that negative polarity can be triggered not only by direct negatives such as "not" or "never", but by words such as "doubt" or "hardly".


Find a translation for the double negative definition in other languages:

Select another language:

Discuss these double negative definitions with the community:


Use the citation below to add this definition to your bibliography:


"double negative." STANDS4 LLC, 2014. Web. 25 Nov. 2014. < negative>.

Are we missing a good definition for double negative?

The Web's Largest Resource for

Definitions & Translations

A Member Of The STANDS4 Network

Nearby & related entries:

Alternative searches for double negative: