word-forming element, in English meaning usually "out of, from," but also "upwards, completely, deprive of, without," and "former;" from Latin ex "out of, from within; from which time, since; according to; in regard to," from PIE *eghs "out" (source also of Gaulish ex-, Old Irish ess-, Old Church Slavonic izu, Russian iz). In some cases also from Greek cognate ex, ek. PIE *eghs had comparative form *eks-tero and superlative *eks-t(e)r-emo-. Often reduced to e- before -b-, -d-, -g-, consonantal -i-, -l-, -m-, -n-, -v- (as in elude, emerge, evaporate, etc.).
"nothing," 1833, from Latin nil, contraction of nihil, nihilum "nothing, not at all; in vain," from ne- "not" (from PIE root *ne- "not") + hilum "small thing, trifle," which is of unknown origin. The Latin phrase nil desperandum, used loosely for "never give up," is literally "nothing is to be despaired of," from the gerundive of desperare.