Nothing If Not

Meaning of Idiom ‘Nothing if Not’

Nothing if not, followed by an adjective, means very, certainly; most of all. 1Kirkpatrick, Elizabeth M. The Wordsworth Dictionary of Idioms. Ware: Wordsworth, 1995. ,2Jarvie, Gordon. Bloomsbury Dictionary of Idioms. London: Bloomsbury, 2009.,3Ammer, Christine. American Heritage Dictionary of Idioms. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2013.

Examples of Use

“Jane is nothing if not patient. She’s been putting up with George’s childishness for years.”

“Richard sent another letter to Maria asking her to forgive him. He’s nothing if not persistent.”

“There goes Markus again in the same black t-shirt. He’s nothing if not consistent.”

Origin

This idiom has been used since at least the late 1500’s The notion here is that a person possesses a certain characteristic in such abundance that there would be nothing left if that characteristic was missing.

Shakespeare used the idiom in Othello (c. 1603): “For I am nothing, if not critical.”

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Sources   [ + ]

1. Kirkpatrick, Elizabeth M. The Wordsworth Dictionary of Idioms. Ware: Wordsworth, 1995.
2. Jarvie, Gordon. Bloomsbury Dictionary of Idioms. London: Bloomsbury, 2009.
3. Ammer, Christine. American Heritage Dictionary of Idioms. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2013.