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What is the difference between nobody and no body?

I believe that both have the same meaning.

Nobody can be used as a pronoun. For example,

Nobody is going there.

Nobody can also be used as a noun. For example,

They went from nobodies to superstars.

Nobody: one word only

No body: two words

Is all of this information correct?

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  • 2
    I don't know why any body would use "no body" (two words) today. They're the same word; the spelling switched from "no body" to "nobody" during the 18th century. Commented Jan 19, 2016 at 15:59
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    Nobody would use 'any body' — it's one word, 'anybody'. Perhaps, you've (Mustafa) confused 'nobody' with 'no one', haven't you? Commented Jan 19, 2016 at 16:10
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    "No body" is a very good reason that somebody might not be charged with murder. Commented Jan 19, 2016 at 18:13
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    As a side note, "He became Nobody to a superstar." is not a correct English sentence. We would say something like: "He was a nobody and became a superstar."
    – Luke
    Commented Jan 19, 2016 at 20:18
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    Call me old fashioned but this is why I prefer to use no-one, anyone and someone in preference to nobody, anybody & somebody.
    – user122572
    Commented Jan 19, 2016 at 23:42

5 Answers 5

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They do not have the same meaning in modern English.

There is nobody in this picture:

nobody

where "nobody" is a pronoun meaning "no person" (definition 1 at dictionary.reference.com).

Whereas there is no body in this picture:

no body

where "no body" means "not a body".

In this picture there are a couple of nobodies:

enter image description here

where "nobody" means "a person of no importance" (definition 2 at dictionary.reference.com).

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    I would say that 'no body' means the absence of someone's body, whereas 'nobody' means that there is no person. Commented Jan 19, 2016 at 18:18
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    See also this classic scene from Young Frankenstein
    – Chris K
    Commented Jan 19, 2016 at 20:28
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    There's also a joke based on this in Clue. "There's no body. Nobody. There's-there's nobody in the study." Commented Jan 19, 2016 at 22:20
  • My name is no body, am I in this picture?
    – user13267
    Commented Jan 20, 2016 at 11:55
  • 1
    @user13267 - Nope, your name is "user13267".
    – AndyT
    Commented Jan 20, 2016 at 12:01
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Nobody (n.) an a single term meaning "no one" dates back to the 17th century. No body are two distinct terms with just their literal meaning:

  • mid-14c., no body "no person noone," from Middle English no (adj.) "not any" + bodi (see body (n.)). Written as two words 14c.-18c.; hyphenated 17c.-18c. Meaning "person of no importance" is from 1580s.

(Etymonline)

Ngram: nobody, no-body, no body.

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Nobody - No person; no one. Not anybody of importance, authority, or social position. A person of no importance, authority, or social position (OED).

No body - the absence of a body (i.e. exactly what it says!).

A verse in Randy Newman's excellent song, Short People (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sX6I2NrguAs), plays with the two meanings of nobody/no body:

"Short People got nobody ...to love."

  1. If you are short you will not attract anyone to love you ('short people got nobody to love');

  2. If you are short you have less of a body (literally, the size of your body) to love (someone with) ('short people got no body to love')

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1

The history of the phrase/word has gone from no body to no-body to nobody, increasing in frequency towards the latter. They mean the same thing in their use both as pronoun and noun, for example "He would talk to no body, not even his father" is acceptable in the oldest style as a noun.

The pluralisation thereof is the same irrespective of style, but can differ dependent on the text. I think the "becoming nobody" phrasing is contracted from "becoming a nobody", i.e. becoming one of the (plural) nobody group.

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I'm going to explain it with some simple examples:

Amabo created a health care that nobody uses

Nobody means: no one, none, not a soul, not a person

Amabo said that he killed Tim Osman, despite what he said, no body was found

No body is this case means no corpse, or cadaver

No body has the same meaning as others of its kind like no salt, no hope.

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