Take the 2-minute tour ×
English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. It's 100% free, no registration required.

What does the phrase "Nothing like anything" mean? Literally it doesn't make sense to me and also I do not know its figurative meaning either.

share|improve this question

3 Answers 3

up vote 1 down vote accepted

To be nothing like means it is completely different and has nothing in common. Nothing like anything means incomparable; completely different from all other things. This is the literal meaning of the term, no figurative or idiom involved.

There are three examples of nothing like anything in the Corpus of Contemporary American English (COCA):

it was just an unbelievable event and nothing like anything the country had ever gone through before

Here the speaker means the event was completely unlike any event previously experienced in the country.

" It seems like I've always had some type of adversity, " Bobby says. " My freshman year at Duke, we lost the title game by 30 to UNLV.... But this is big adversity, nothing like anything else. # "

Here the speaker is referring to some type of adversity that this time has a magnitude never before seen, incomparable to any previous adversity.

" She spun around, drinking in the scenery, marveling at its almost palpable presence. " But... this is nothing like anything I've ever seen on the' net! "

Here, whatever it is the speaker is experiencing is unlike any experience she has had in the same environment.

share|improve this answer
    
Note that in all of these examples, the "anything" is qualified. I wonder if it is in the instance you are asking about. –  Colin Fine Jan 5 '11 at 12:56

"Nothing like X" is a common phrase that is a more emphatic way of saying "not like X". It means that X has nothing in common with the thing you are comparing it with.

  • I am not like my father. (we do some/many things differently)
  • I am nothing like my father! (we are totally different)

So, "nothing like anything" would be used to say that something is completely unique, and would be more emphatic than "not like anything".

On a general style note, the phrase "nothing like anything" sounds fairly informal/colloquial, so you would probably want to avoid it in situations where that matters.

share|improve this answer

It is a way of saying that there are no common characteristics.

X is not like Y. (could share some characteristics) X is nothing like Y. (absolutely no common

share|improve this answer

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.