nothing doing

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nothing doing

  1. (dated, idiomatic, now chiefly India) Absolutely not; definitely no.
    • 1917, William MacLeod Raine, The Sheriff's Son, ch. 11:
      "I'll fix his clock all right."
      "Nothing doing. I won't have it."
    • 1920, Victor Appleton, Tom Swift And His Undersea Search, ch. 1:
      "[P]erhaps you might sell them a submarine or some of your diving apparatus."
      "Nothing doing, Ned. We've got other plans."
    • 1946, "MANAGEMENT: Bundy Saves & Shares," Time, 4 Nov.:
      [T]he employes of Detroit's Bundy Tubing Co. wanted a raise of 18 1/2 cents an hour. Said Bundy flatly: nothing doing.
    • 2008, Preeta Samarasan, Evening is the Whole Day, →ISBN, page 255:
      [S]he'd consoled herself with a fresh plan: she'd refuse to go to her father when he came back. Nothing doing, she'd say.

Usage notes[edit]

  • Also commonly used as a sum-of-parts collocation meaning "nothing that is currently occurring" or "nothing going on", as in:
  • 1846 October 1 – 1848 April 1, Charles Dickens, chapter 4, in Dombey and Son, London: Bradbury and Evans, [], published 1848, OCLC 145080417:
    "You see, Walter," he said, "in truth this business is merely a habit with me . . . but there's nothing doing, nothing doing. . . . I hardly know where I am myself; much less where my customers are."
  • 1870–1871, Mark Twain [pseudonym; Samuel Langhorne Clemens], chapter 24, in Roughing It, Hartford, Conn.: American Publishing Company [et al.], published 1872, OCLC 275036:
    There was nothing doing in the district—no mining—no milling—no productive effort—no income.
  • 1922, Agatha Christie, The Secret Adversary, ch. 11:
    I began to think that there was nothing doing, that he'd just come on the trip for his health.
  • 2010, Lee Child, Persuader, →ISBN, page 58:
    There was nothing doing in the kitchen.


See also[edit]