"no thing, not any thing, not something," Middle English, from Old English naþing, naðinc, from nan "not one" (see none) + þing "thing" (see thing). Meaning "insignificant thing, thing of no consequence" is from c. 1600. As an adverb, "not at all, in no degree," late Old English. As an adjective by 1961. For nothing "not at all" is from c. 1300. Nothing to it, indicating something easy to do, is by 1925. Nothing to write home about, indicating an unremarkable circumstance or thing, is from 1917 among the World War I soldiers.
1827, "ignoramus," from know (v.) + nothing. As a U.S. nativist political party, active 1853-56, the name refers to the secret society at the core of the party, about which members were instructed to answer, if asked about it, that they "know nothing." The party eventually merged into the Republican Party. Related: Know-nothingism.
"worthless," 1711, from adjectival phrase (see good (adj.)).
Proto-Indo-European root meaning "not."
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."
"quality or state of being nothing," 1670s, from Medieval Latin nihilitas, from nihil "nothing at all" (see nil).
"reduce to nothing," 1520s, from Medieval Latin annihilatus, past participle of annihilare "reduce to nothing," from Latin ad "to" (see ad-) + nihil "nothing" (see nil). Related: Annihilated; annihilating.
Middle English had a past-participle adjective annichilate "destroyed, annulled, reduced to nothing" (late 14c.), from past participle of Old French anichiler "annihilate, destroy" (14c.) or the Medieval Latin verb.