The English language is said to have one million words within its lexicon. This large number of words within this lexicon allows the communication of ideas to be both nuanced and precise. This is why English is widely used all over the World. However, English has within its lexicon words that are not easily pinned down as to precise meaning. One such word is the noun form of “nothing”. I have been trying to pin down its meaning since I started wondering about “The Big Bang” and what came before the event. As in:”Before the event there was nothing”. I must add, my time spent wondering about the beginning of the Universe has not produced much in the way of insight.

My deluxe edition of “Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary” gives as the definitions of “nothing”: “something that does not exist”, and,”the absence of all magnitude or quantity”. These offerings by my dictionary seems to be feeble at best. The first offering equates “nothing” with “something”. This is nonsense. It is no help to add that the “something” does not exist! The first offering is a bust as a springboard to greater insight (at least for me). The second offering is a little better in that it uses the word “absence”. However, the word “absence” seems to imply an entity is merely missing. I tend to think of “nothing” as if entities (1)never were, (2)are not now, (3)never will be- there. Note the problem with the word “there”. The word “there” implies “nothing” has a place. But to have a “place”, or location requires a frame of reference. If “nothing” is to be nothing, it cannot even have a frame of reference; Spacetime is not allowed! Now that the confusion index has been elevated to a new level, its appropriate to now examine the rest of the second offering.

The words “magnitude” and “quantity”, as I understand them, are parameters used to describe an entity. They are not the entity itself. Furthermore, it is possible to envision an entity which does not have magnitude and quantity. I offer the example of Human consciousness. It exists without magnitude and quantity. Human consciousness also cannot be permitted within the concept of “nothing”. The confusion index has been elevated even more I fear.

I have concluded there are no words within the English language lexicon that are up to the task of defining the noun “nothing”. The root problem is all words stand for “things” or “abstractions” that are within the Human experience. The reality of “nothing” has not been within Human experience nor has it been imagined by the Human brain. No words exist to define “nothing”. That is my conclusion.


I am 89 years old and was married for 66 years. My wife passed away in 2016. I am a retired engineer and spent 35 years developing INS gyroscopes. I was a High School mentor in physics, a mountaineer, a model builder, a machinist and I have a degree in Physics. My interests include railroad history and photography, science history, cosmology, interesting people, and old engineering drawings. I place a high value on my friendships. I enjoying my life and I try look forward with a sense of anticipation and curiosity about what my future has in store for me.


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