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Definition 2022


double_negative

double negative

English

Noun

double negative (plural double negatives)

  1. (pejorative, rhetoric) A phrase in which there are two negative words or their compounds (e.g. no, not, never, none, etc), occasionally leading to ambiguity in the meaning, but necessary in some foreign languages.
Examples
  • "Jimmy, you look awfully guilty, have you been naughty again?"
    "Me sir, no sir, I haven't done nothing wrong, I swear."
    The n't and the nothing together create a double negative.
  • He nevere yet no vilaynie ne sayde.
    Geoffrey Chaucer, Canterbury Tales
    The highlighted terms create a triple negative.

Usage notes

Often used pejoratively to characterize language use that has been acceptable in many vintages and dialects of English and other languages.

See also

Translations