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See also: Nill



Etymology 1[edit]

From Middle English nillen, from Old English nillan, nellan, nyllan (to be unwilling, refuse, prevent; not want to), corresponding to ne +‎ will. Cognate with Old Frisian nelle.


nill (third-person singular simple present nills, present participle nilling, simple past nilled or (obsolete) nould, past participle nilled)

  1. (modal auxiliary, obsolete) To be unwilling; will not (+ infinitive).
  2. (intransitive, archaic) To be unwilling.
    • 1485 July 31, Thomas Malory, “Capitulum V”, in [Le Morte Darthur], book II, [London]: Enprynted and fynysshed in thabbey Westmestre [by William Caxton], OCLC 71490786; republished as H[einrich] Oskar Sommer, editor, Le Morte Darthur by Syr Thomas Malory; the Original Edition of William Caxton Now Reprinted and Edited with an Introduction and Glossary by H. Oskar Sommer, Ph.D.; with an Essay on Malory’s Prose Style by Andrew Lang, London: Published by David Nutt, in the Strand, 1889, OCLC 890162034, page 031:
      So the knight of Ireland armed him at all points, [] , and rode after a great pace, as much as his horse might go; and within a little space on a mountain he had a sight of Balin, and with a loud voice he cried, Abide, knight, for ye shall abide whether ye will or nill, and the shield that is to-fore you shall not help.
      1485, Sir Thomas Malory, chapter v, in Le Morte Darthur, book II:
      Soo the knyght of Irelonde armed hym at al poyntes / [] and rode after a grete paas as moche as his hors myght goo / and within a lytel space on a montayne he had a syghte of Balyn / and with a lowde voys he cryed abyde knyght / for ye shal abyde whether ye will or nyll / and the sheld that is to fore you shalle not helpe
    • 1955, J. R. R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings (Appendices):
      I must indeed abide the Doom of Men, whether I will or I nill.
  3. (transitive, archaic) To reject, refuse, negate.
Derived terms[edit]

Etymology 2[edit]

Compare Irish and Gaelic neul star, light. Compare nebula.



  1. Shining sparks thrown off from melted brass.
  2. Scales of hot iron from the forge.
    (Can we find and add a quotation of Knight to this entry?)