mid-14c., "evil, an evil act," also " a trifle," c. 1400, "nothingness;" early 15c., in arithmetic, "the number zero;" from noht, naht (pron.) "nothing" (late 12c.), from Old English nawiht "nothing," literally "no whit," from na "no" (from PIE root *ne- "not") + wiht "thing, creature, being" (see wight). Also see nought.
Cognate with Old Saxon neowiht "nothing," Old High German niwiht, Gothic ni waihts, Dutch niet, German nicht. It also developed an adjectival sense in Old English, "good for nothing," which by mid-16c. had focused to "morally bad, wicked," though the modern adjective is naughty.
Middle English, from Old English nowiht "nothing," variant of nawiht (see naught). Meaning "zero, cipher" is from early 15c. Expression for nought "in vain" is from c. 1200. To come to nought is from early 15c. (become to naught, ycome to naught are from c. 1300).
as an answer, "nothing, none," 1789, from German nix, dialectal variant of nichts "nothing," from Middle High German nihtes, from genitive of niht, nit "nothing," from Old High German niwiht, from ni, ne "no" (from PIE root *ne- "not") + wiht "thing, creature" (compare naught). By extension, as an adverb, "no."
late 14c., nowghty, noughti "needy, having nothing," also "evil, immoral, corrupt, unclean," from nought, naught "evil, an evil act; nothingness; a trifle; insignificant person; the number zero" (from Old English nawiht "nothing;" see naught)) + -y (2).
Specific meaning "sexually promiscuous" is from 1869. The mitigated sense of "disobedient, bad in conduct or speech, improper, mischievous" (especially of the delinquencies of children) is attested from 1630s. Related: Naughtily; naughtiness. In 16c.-18c. a woman of bad character might be called a naughty pack (also sometimes used of men and later of children).
negative particle, a word expressing negation, denial, refusal, or prohibition, mid-13c., unstressed variant of noht, naht "in no way" (see naught). As an interjection to negate what was said before or reveal it as sarcasm, it is attested by 1900, popularized 1989 by "Wayne's World" sketches on "Saturday Night Live" TV show.
Not, spoken with emphasis, often stands for the negation of a whole sentence referred to: as, I hope not (that is, I hope that the state of things you describe does not exist). [Century Dictionary, 1895]
To not know X from Y (one's ass from one's elbow, shit from Shinola, etc.) was a construction attested from c. 1930 in modern use; but compare Middle English not know an A from a windmill (c. 1400). Double negative construction not un- was derided by Orwell, but is persistent and ancient in English, popular with Milton and the Anglo-Saxon poets.
It forms all or part of: a- (3) "not, without;" abnegate; ahimsa; an- (1) privative prefix; annihilate; annul; aught (n.2) "zero, nothing;" deny; hobnob; in- (1) "not, opposite of, without;" ixnay; naught; naughty; nay; nefarious; negate; neglect; negligee; negotiate; neither; nepenthe; nescience; nescient; neuter; never; nice; nihilism; nihility; nil; nill; nimiety; nix; no; non-; none; nonplus; nor; not; nothing; null; nullify; nulliparous; renegade; renege; un- (1) prefix of negation; willy-nilly.
It is the hypothetical source of/evidence for its existence is provided by: Sanskrit a-, an- "not;" Avestan na "not;" Greek a-, an-, ne- "not;" Latin in- "not," ne "that not;" Old Church Slavonic and Lithuanian ne "not;" Old Irish an-, ni, Cornish ny "not;" Gothic and Old English un- "not."
c. 1300, "go astray;" mid-14c., "come to harm; come to naught, perish;" of persons, "to die," of objects, "to be lost or destroyed," from mis- (1) "wrongly" + caryen "to carry" (see carry (v.)). Meaning "deliver an unviable fetus" is recorded from 1520s (compare abortion); that of "fail to reach the intended result, come to naught" (of plans or designs) is from c. 1600. Related: Miscarried; miscarrying.
A brief history of the invention of "zero" can be found here. Meaning "worthless person" is recorded from 1813. As an adjective from 1810. Zero tolerance first recorded 1972, originally U.S. political language. Zero-sum in game theory is from 1944 (von Neumann), indicating that if one player wins X amount the other or others must lose X amount.
"proud and disdainful," 1520s, a redundant extension of haught (q.v.) "high in one's own estimation" by addition of -y (2) on model of might/mighty, naught/naughty, etc. Middle English had also hautif in this sense (mid-15c., from Old French hautif), and hautein "proud, haughty, arrogant; presumptuous" (c. 1300), from Old French hautain. Related: Haughtily.