In No Circumstances: Definition, Meaning, and Origin

Last Updated on
October 18, 2023

The idiom "in no circumstances" refers to something not allowed, possible, or acceptable in any situation. It shows that the speaker is earnest and determined about something and that there is no exception or compromise.

In short:

  • It means never, no matter what happens or what the situation is.
  • It is used to emphasize a strong prohibition, refusal, or rejection of something.

What Does "In No Circumstances" Mean?

The phrase "under no circumstances" denotes a situation where something is prohibited, impossible, or unacceptable in any context. It conveys the speaker's absolute refusal of something.

Where Does "In No Circumstances" Come From?

The origin of the idiom "in no circumstances" is unclear. However, it seems to date back to the 19th century. It is possible that the expression was influenced by the Latin phrase "sub nullo praetextu," which means "under no pretext" or "on no account." This phrase was used by the Roman writer Cicero in his speeches and letters.

Historical Example

According to some sources, the earliest recorded use of "in no circumstances" was in 1829, in a letter by the British politician Lord Palmerston. He wrote:

"I have told him that in no circumstances whatever would I consent to his going to Paris."

10 Examples of "In No Circumstances" in Sentences

Here are some examples of how to use this idiom in sentences:

  • Knock yourself out. In no circumstances will we negotiate with terrorists.
  • Get a life! In no circumstances do I want to see you again. Leave me alone.
  • In no circumstances should you drive under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
  • In no circumstances should you trust him. Real talk: He is a liar and a cheater.
  • Pro tip: In no circumstances do they accept credit cards. You have to pay cash.
  • Smoking is strictly prohibited in this building; in no circumstances is it allowed.
  • Of course not. In no circumstances are we going to apologize. We did nothing wrong.
  • In no circumstances would she agree to marry Adan. She hated him with all her heart.
  • In no circumstances should you ignore a fire alarm; evacuate the building immediately.
  • Just the facts, ma'am. In no circumstances will we tolerate bullying or harassment in our workplace.

Examples of "In No Circumstances" in Pop Culture

Here are some examples of how this idiom has been used in various forms of pop culture:

  • A quote attributed to Woodrow Wilson states: "Our power of independent action and can in no circumstances consent to live in a world governed by intrigue and force."
  • A passage from the book "Varieties of Tone" mentions: "It is presumptuous to suppose that in no circumstances whatsoever will the difference in form get exploited in practice."
  • The book "On the Beneficence of Censorship" states: "In no circumstances can the ordinary editor of a publishing house be considered a privileged member of Soviet society."
  • "The new Cinema Communication" from The Council of Europe emphasizes: "It is important to point out that this section must in no circumstances be considered as a full and exhaustive overview of the consultation..."

Synonyms: Other/Different Ways to Say "In No Circumstances"

Here are some synonyms or related expressions for this idiom:

  • Never
  • Not at all
  • No chance
  • In no case
  • In no way
  • In no event
  • On no account
  • Not for any reason
  • Not in any circumstances
  • Not under any conditions

10 Frequently Asked Questions About "In No Circumstances"

Here are some frequently asked questions about the idiom:

  • What does "in no circumstances" mean?

The idiom "in no circumstances" refers to something not allowed, possible, or acceptable in any situation. It shows that the speaker is earnest and determined about something and that there is no exception or compromise.

  • What is the origin of the phrase "in no circumstances"?

The origin of the idiom "in no circumstances" is unclear. However, it seems to date back to the 19th century. It is possible that the expression was influenced by the Latin phrase "sub nullo praetextu," which means "under no pretext" or "on no account."

  • Is "in no circumstances" interchangeable with "never"?

Yes, "in no circumstances" is similar in meaning to "never." Both convey absolute prohibition or unacceptability.

  • When should I use "in no circumstances" in a sentence?

You should use "in no circumstances" to emphasize that a particular action, behavior, or event is prohibited, impossible, or unacceptable.

  • Can "in no circumstances" be used in formal writing?

Yes, "in no circumstances" can be used in formal writing to express a strict prohibition or unyielding stance.

  • Is there flexibility when using "in no circumstances" in a statement?

No, "in no circumstances" implies complete inflexibility, leaving no room for exceptions or compromise.

  • Are there any exceptions to the rule when using "in no circumstances"?

No, the phrase is used precisely because there are no exceptions. It signifies an unwavering stance.

  • Can "in no circumstances" be used to express personal preferences?

No, it is typically used to convey an objective, non-negotiable rule or guideline.

  • Is there a similar idiom for "in no circumstances" in other languages?

Yes, many languages have similar expressions conveying absolute prohibition or unacceptability in any situation.

  • Can "in no circumstances" be used to describe something positive?

No, the idiom is predominantly used to emphasize negativity, prohibition, or unacceptability. It's not used to describe positive scenarios.

Final Thoughts About "In No Circumstances"

In conclusion, the idiom "in no circumstances" is a handy and powerful way of expressing a strong negative statement that applies to any situation.

Some key points about this idiom:

  • It means never, no matter what happens or what the situation is.
  • It emphasizes a strong prohibition, refusal, or rejection of something.
  • It can be followed by a modal verb such as can, should, or will.
  • It can also be used with a negative verb form, such as don't, won't, or wouldn't.
  • It can be placed at the beginning or middle of a sentence but not at the end.

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