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Reading some forum pages about the meaning of this phrase, I realized that there's a difference in usage of it, between American and British English. What's the difference in meaning of "never mind" in American English and British English?

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Related: english.stackexchange.com/questions/12752/… –  user362 Aug 1 '11 at 12:43
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3 Answers

up vote 8 down vote accepted

I'd say there really isn't much difference in usage between American English and British English. In both dialects, it can be used to mean "it's alright", and dismissively to mean something like "shut up, I'm annoyed". A lot of it depends on tone of voice.

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Considering @Snubian's answer, I think the phrase could be used both ways in both regions.
I don't see a particular UK/US distinction; rather, the difference depends on the mood of the speaker, as @Jez suggested.

I do notice a difference (but again, not a regional one) between transitive and intransitive use:

Transitive = Disregard

Fred: I'm slightly worried about X
Bill: Never mind that - what about Y?

Intransitive = "Oh well, that's a shame, but let's not worry about it"

Fred: So I'm afraid we'll have to have pizza, not tacos
Bill: Never mind. I like tacos.

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It is possible to detect a subtle difference between typical usage in the UK and US.

US example:

Bill: Hey, Fred, how would you like two free tickets to see Michael Bolton?

Fred: Yeah, sounds cool! When's the show?

Bill: Saturday night.

Fred: Dang, I can't make it Saturday, I'll have to pass on the tickets.

Bill: Aw, too bad.

Fred: Never mind.

UK example:

Fred: Hey, Bill, do you have those two Michael Bolton tickets you promised me?

Bill: Oh, Fred, sorry mate, but the missus gave those to her sister.

Fred: What?! But you promised them to me!

Bill: Yeah, I know, but ...

Fred: We've hired a babysitter and everything!

Bill: I'm really sorry, Fred - look, let me make it up to you ...

Fred: Oh, never mind! [storms off in a huff]

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protected by RegDwigнt Aug 1 '11 at 11:05

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