slang for "nothing," 1933 (Hemingway), from Spanish nada "nothing," from Latin (res) nata "small, insignificant thing," literally "(thing) born," from natus, past participle of nasci "to be born" (Old Latin gnasci), from PIE root *gene- "give birth, beget."
First in Hemingway's "A Clean, Well-Lighted Place," set in a Spanish cafe, in which the word figures largely:
What did he fear? It was not fear or dread. It was nothing that he knew too well. It was all a nothing and a man was nothing too. It was only that and light was all it needed and a certain cleanness and order. Some lived it and never felt it but he knew it all was nada y pues nada y nada y pues nada. Our nada who art in nada, nada be thy name thy kingdom nada thy will be nada in nada as it is in nada. Give us this nada our daily nada and nada us our nada as we nada our nadas and nada us not into nada but deliver us from nada; pues nada. Hail nothing full of nothing, nothing is with thee.
updated on June 04, 2019