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Etymology 1[edit]

From Middle English nonse, nones, a rebracketing of Middle English to þan anes, for þan anes (to/for the one (occasion, instance)).



nonce (plural nonces)

  1. The one or single occasion; the present reason or purpose (now only in for the nonce).
    That will do for the nonce, but we'll need a better answer for the long term.
  2. (lexicography) A nonce word.
    I had thought that the term was a nonce, but it seems as if it's been picked up by other authors.


nonce (not comparable)

  1. Denoting something occurring once.

Derived terms[edit]

Etymology 2[edit]

Unknown. UK criminal slang. Possibly originally from dialectal nonce, nonse (stupid, worthless individual), or Nance, nance (effeminate man), from Nancy boy.

See Wikipedia article for further discussion.


nonce (plural nonces)

  1. (Britain, slang, pejorative) A sex offender, especially one who is guilty of sexual offences against children.
    That bloke who lives at number 53 is a nonce!
  2. (Britain, slang) A stupid or worthless person.
    Shut it, ya nonce!

Etymology 3[edit]

Contraction of number used once.


nonce (plural nonces)

  1. (cryptography) A value constructed so as to be unique to a particular message in a stream, in order to prevent replay attacks.
    In this protocol we use the serial number of the message as a nonce.
    • 1999, Network Working Group, RFC 2617 – HTTP Authentication: Basic and Digest Access Authentication, The Internet Society, page 22,
      The information gained by the eavesdropper would permit a replay attack, but only with a request for the same document, and even that may be limited by the server's choice of nonce.




nonce m (plural nonces)

  1. nuncio

Further reading[edit]