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[nee-th er, nahy-] /ˈni ðər, ˈnaɪ-/
not either, as of persons or things specified (usually followed by nor):
Neither John nor Betty is at home.
nor; nor yet; no more:
Bob can't go, and neither can I. If she doesn't want it, neither do I.
not either; not the one or the other:
Neither statement is true.
not either; not one person or the other; not one thing or the other:
Neither of the suggestions will do. Neither is to be trusted.
1150-1200; Middle English, equivalent to ne not + either; replacing Middle English nawther, Old English nāwther, nāhwæther ( not, no1 + hwæther which of two; see whether)
Can be confused
either, neither (see usage note at either; see usage note at the current entry)
Usage note
As an adjective or pronoun meaning “not either,” neither is usually followed by a singular verb and referred to by a singular personal pronoun: Neither lawyer prepares her own briefs. Neither performs his duties for reward. When neither is followed by a prepositional phrase with a plural object, there has been, ever since the 17th century, a tendency, especially in speech and less formal writing, to use a plural verb and personal pronoun: Neither of the guards were at their stations. In edited writing, however, singular verbs and pronouns are more common in such constructions: Neither of the guards was at his station.
As a correlative conjunction, neither is almost always followed by nor, not or: Neither the liberals nor the conservatives had originally supported the winner. Subjects connected by neithernor take singular verbs and pronouns when both subjects are singular ( Neither Diane nor Nicole has her own apartment ), plural when both are plural: Neither the Yankees nor the Dodgers got much help from their bull pens that year. Usage guides commonly say that when a singular and a plural subject are joined by these correlative conjunctions, the noun or pronoun nearer the verb should determine the number of the verb: Neither the mayor nor the council members have yielded on the issue. Neither the council members nor the mayor has yielded on the issue. Practice in this matter varies, however, and often the presence of one plural, no matter what its position, results in a plural verb.
In edited writing the construction following neither is parallel to the one following nor: The great days of American political oratory are neither dead nor waning (not neither are dead nor waning ). This sale sacrifices neither quality nor availability (not This sale neither sacrifices quality nor availability ).
Although some usage guides say that neither may introduce a series of no more than two, it often is used to introduce a series of three or more: The head of that department is neither skillful nor well-prepared nor honest. See also either.
Pronunciation note
See either. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for neither
  • neither had worked with this particular group of students before either.
  • neither demand was realistic: the way ahead is too uncertain.
  • No such thing exists, neither in the smallest known quanta, nor the visible universe.
  • It seems that the world has finally discovered that the traditional camera strap is neither comfortable nor practical.
  • Unfortunately, today such involvement is neither widespread nor growing.
  • They grew up as the leftovers of an unpopular war, straddling two worlds but belonging to neither.
  • The best picnic is the one at which neither kids nor grown-ups are exhausted from cooking and cleaning up.
  • In my view, neither approach is worthy of your attention or money yet, but it is an interesting push into new territory.
  • The welfare bill is neither as objectionable as its critics depict it nor as uncontroversial as its supporters would have it.
  • The fishing spider needs neither rod nor reel to lure in tadpoles, fish, or frogs.
British Dictionary definitions for neither


/ˈnaɪðə; ˈniːðə/
  1. not one nor the other (of two); not either: neither foot is swollen
  2. (as pronoun): neither can win
  1. (used preceding alternatives joined by nor) not: neither John nor Mary nor Joe went
  2. another word for nor (sense 2)
(sentence modifier) (not standard) another word for either (sense 4)
Usage note
A verb following a compound subject that uses neither… should be in the singular if both subjects are in the singular: neither Jack nor John has done the work
Word Origin
C13 (literally, ne either not either): changed from Old English nāwther, from nāhwæther, from not + hwæther which of two; see whether
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for neither

Old English nawþer, contraction of nahwæþer, literally "not of two," from na "no" (see no) + hwæþer "which of two" (see whether). Spelling altered c.1200 by association with either. Paired with nor from c.1300; earlier with ne. Also used in Old English as a pronoun. As an adjective, mid-14c.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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